Eagles Make a Change, But Not at Linebacker

Eagles Make a Change, But Not at Linebacker

While most of the Bird watching world was expecting to see change in the air after last Thursday's thrashing at the hands of the Steelers, they were probably looking in the wrong skies. While the linebackers will remain the same for now, the offensive line will have a new look when the Browns visit the Linc this week.

Over the weekend CSN's Reuben reports that Frank Eagles' sixth round pick Jason Kelce has been taking all of the first team snaps at center in practice this week in anticipation of making his first start against Cleveland--a change that could mark the end of Jamaal Jackson's run as the club's man in the middle.

After flirting with the idea during training camp, at times splitting time with the ones between Kelce and Jackson, the coaches must really like what they see out of the rookie, and think it's time for a test run.

Marty Mornhinweg told reporters on Sunday the rookie "earned" the opportunity, while the Inquirer's Tim Rohan wrote two weeks ago Kelce is precisely the kind of player offensive line coach Howard Mudd prefers--"an athletic brick wall with quick feet."

The job isn't officially Kelce's just yet, but it sure sounds as though it may be his to lose, which is something of a surprise. Even with all the changes at right tackle so far, the offensive line has been steady through two preseason games. At least, the performance at center wasn't something that stood out, which isn't a bad thing.

Meanwhile, it's fair to speculate what would happen to Jackson, who has been the starting center since taking over for Hank Fraley in 2005. After Jackson tore his ACL down the stretch in '09, he managed to return for opening day last year, only to sustain a torn triceps, once again ending his season.

With the Eagles in "win now" mode, it might make sense to keep Jackson, but he's set to make $1.5 million. He has years remaining on his contract though (signed through 2013), and might fetch a mid-round pick in a trade. Plus, it's not as if the Eagles have nobody else who could fill in. Mike McGlynn was, let's go with capable, in 15 starts last year.

Kelce winning the job would be one heck of an upset, but not necessarily a bad move. He comes into the position with more of a pedigree than either of the last two regulars, both of whom were undrafted free agents. And let's face it, the change will happen sooner or later. Jackson is 31, and suddenly very injury prone.

The Eagles don't have much time remaining to make a decision. The third game is the biggest tune-up of the preseason, and Andy Reid historically holds the majority of his key players out of the final scrimmage. It sure looks like it's going to be Kelce with any sort of decent showing on Thursday.

>> Eagles to test rookie Kelce in starting center role [CSN]
>> Kelce just the kind of lineman Mudd likes [Inquirer]
>> Eagles: Kelce has 'earned' shot at center [BirdS' Eye View]

Eagles' Brandon Brooks gives father touching gift

Eagles' Brandon Brooks gives father touching gift

How’s this for an awesome deed?

Eagles offensive guard Brandon Brooks took to Twitter to show a heartfelt message, that included a photo of a new car he purchased for his father.

In the tweet, Brooks revealed the mindset his father has instilled in him growing up, not wanting to be average and more.

Nice gesture, Brandon.

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

PITTSBURGH -- The ice on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field was watery and slushy.
 
That’s because the city set a historic record at 78 degrees for Feb. 24.
 
So what were the ice conditions?
 
“They were pretty good,” said Sidney Crosby. “It was pretty bright there. Started off the practice and the sun was beating down pretty good.
 
“I’ve played in a few of these and the ice was pretty good considering how warm it was. It’s supposed to cool down and I’m sure it will get better.”
 
The Penguins will host the Flyers on Saturday night in a Stadium Series outdoor game.
 
Pittsburgh took the ice Friday at 4 p.m. The Flyers got on the ice a little more than an hour later and things started to cool down.
 
“We had a pretty good practice given the circumstances,” Jakub Voracek said. “This is a little better setup than Philly. The fans are closer.”
 
It was much hotter when Pittsburgh took the ice, but the temperature was still warm after the sun went down.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere said, “It was hot for sure. … It was fun, but it was pretty hot.”
 
Defenseman Radko Gudas said the ice surface was, “playable, but a little rough.”
 
On Saturday, rain is expected, with temperatures falling to 42 degrees by 5 p.m.
 
During the game, which begins at 8 p.m., the temperature is projected to continue to drop and there will be wind gusts up to 31 mph. By the end of the night, the forecast says temps will be in the 20s. 

Players are more concerned about the wind than the ice at this point. Crosby, who has played in three previous NHL outdoor games, said wind is a huge factor. It happened to the Penguins at the 2014 Stadium Series game in Chicago.
 
“It can definitely be a factor,” Crosby said. “I want to say in Chicago that was something we kind of had to look at. We felt it a little more there compared to the other two [outdoor games]. If it going to get windy like that, it’s something to be aware of.”
 
It remains to be seen how the NHL will handle which team goes into the wind first.
 
“Yeah, the wind,” Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet of what element will be a big factor. “I hope you don’t have to backcheck. Who gets the advantage? They change in the third period. But who picks what end? There is a wind factor.”
 
Tocchet rated the ice Friday as “a little slushy.”
 
“It was good early and then it got tough because it was hot outside,” Tocchet said. “But we got a half-decent practice out of it.
 
“The one thing, the puck didn’t bounce, which was good. Players can adapt a lot better when the puck doesn’t bounce. When things bounce, it’s a tough night.”