Eagles: Kelce has 'earned' shot at center

Eagles rookie Jason Kelce will get all the first-team reps this week in practice. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Jason Kelce is taking the first team snaps at center this week, marking a rapid rise and huge opportunity for the sixth round pick.

"No decision has been made. There is great competition there. Kelce has earned the opportunity to do this for a period of time and then we'll make decisions as we go," said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. "Both (Kelce and Jamaal Jackson) are playing at a high level. Both are very different. You got one veteran with some great experience that is playing very well and then you have a rookie that shows awful a lot of talent that has many reps to go through to get to a certain point where we need him to be able to win a ball game. That's where we're at there."

Kelce got the word Friday night that he would be with the starters all week, and admitted to being surprised.

"This certainly doesn't indicate that I'm going," to be starting week one, Kelce said.


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But it clearly indicates that the Eagles are serious about looking at what Kelce offers and are considering using the rookie to replace veteran Jamaal Jackson.

"He's been hurt the last couple of years. He gets hurt, someone's got to step in," Kelce said.

If Kelce starts it would put two rookies in the three interior line spots. First round pick Danny Watkins has been the starter at right guard since he arrived at training camp.

Jackson has played well in the first two preseason games and brings a veteran presence to the line, but the smaller, faster Kelce better fits the Howard Mudd style.

Other noteworthy items today:

-- Special teams coach Bobby April said Ronnie Brown might get a shot at returning kicks (if the Eagles ever see a kick return in the preseason).

-- Right tackle Ryan Harris did not appear to be dressing for today's practice. He participated in yesterday's lighter session, but did not indicate if he'd be out today. Winston Justice, meanwhile, said "I think I'm right on track," in returning from his knee surgery, but asked if he'd be back by the start of the season he said, "I don't know."

-- Mornhinweg, asked if guard Todd Herremans could play right tackle, didn't answer directly, but praised Herremans' ability to play many positions on the offensive line.

-- Mornhinweg also left it unclear who exactly is in the lead for the second quarterback job, praising both Vince Young and Mike Kafka.

-- April said kicker Alex Henery had a strong day kicking Saturday. The practice was closed to reporters, so we'll have to take his word for it.