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]

Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy dies at 48

ap-cortez-kennedy.jpg
AP Images

Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy dies at 48

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy has died in Orlando.

Police say the 48-year-old former Seattle Seahawks star was found dead on Tuesday morning.

Orlando Police Department public information officer Wanda Miglio said the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown, but that there is nothing suspicious about his death. An investigation is being conducted.

One of the best defensive lineman of his generation, Kennedy was a star in his 11 seasons in the NFL with the Seahawks. He became the second Seattle player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. He was an unmovable wall as a dominant defensive tackle, and a quiet, gentle soul away from the field never interested in finding himself in the spotlight.

Kennedy was an eight-time Pro Bowler and won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 1992.

"Really sad to lose a guy like Cortez Kennedy," Broncos' general manager John Elway tweeted Tuesday. Elway was chased around by Kennedy twice a year for much of the 1990s as competitors in the AFC West. "A great personality, a great player and I enjoyed competing against him."

Even though he last played for the Seahawks in 2000, he remained a significant part of the organization. He was a mainstay around the team during training camp and would occasionally roll through the locker room during the regular season grabbing a few minutes with anyone -- players, coaches, media -- up for a chat.

"My heart hurts," current Seahawks offensive lineman Justin Britt tweeted. "We lost a truly great player but even better person."

10 observations from Day 1 of Eagles' OTAs

10 observations from Day 1 of Eagles' OTAs

There was finally some football in South Philly on Tuesday as the Eagles kicked off the first round of their OTAs. 

Aside from a few notable absences -- Fletcher Cox, Jason Peters, Donnie Jones -- the Eagles had just about everyone on the field (see story)

Here are 10 observations from Tuesday's practice: 

1. Here's how the first-team offense looked: 
QB: Carson Wentz
RB: LeGarrette Blount
TE: Zach Ertz
OL (left to right): Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Halapoulivaati Vaitai
WR: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Jordan Matthews

2. Here's how the first-team defense looked: 
LDE: Brandon Graham
LDT: Destiny Vaeao
RDT: Tim Jernigan
RDE: Vinny Curry
LBs: Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks
S: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod
CB: Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson. 

Note: In the nickel package, rookie third-rounder Rasul Douglas came on the field as an outside cornerback and Mills slid into the slot. 

3. Early in the practice, in an offense-only drill, the Eagles were trying to audible into a new play, but there was some confusion with Blount, who didn't seem to know the play. Blount is still obviously learning the playbook, but it shows the respect they have for him that he was working with the ones already. 

4. The play the Eagles wanted to get into during that drill was a good one. Wentz rolled out to his right and found Jeffery streaking across the field. The two seem to be getting on just fine. 

Although later in 11-on-11s, Wentz tossed up an ill-advised pass deep to Jeffery in tight coverage and the ball was picked by McLeod. Jeffery will win a lot of battles, but that one was too much. 

5. Linebacker Joe Walker and cornerback Ron Brooks were on the field on Tuesday but didn't participate in team drills. Walker (ACL) and Brooks (quad tendon) are both recovering from significant injuries. 

6. The Eagles lined up a few times with Darren Sproles and Donnel Pumphrey on the field together. Those few times, Sproles was in the backfield and Pumphrey lined up in the slot. It's early, but we might get to see some creativity from Doug Pederson with these two this year. 

7. Dillon Gordon, whom the Eagles signed as an undrafted rookie last year, did something interesting on Tuesday. The offensive tackle, who played tight end in college, took a few reps at tight end in limited offensive drills. That's intriguing because if he could play the role of an extra tackle during the season, he'd have something Matt Tobin doesn't: the ability to actually become a receiver, not just an eligible one. 

8. Robinson, who is getting run at corner with the first team, won a jump ball with Dorial Green-Beckham on a deep ball. It was an impressive play by Robinson, but DGB mistimed his jump. 

The best defensive play of the day came from Najee Goode in 7-on-7s. The veteran backup linebacker and special teamer dropped back and dove backward to break up a pass off the hand of Nick Foles. 

9. Obviously, there's no hitting yet, but Derek Barnett had a good first day going against the vets. Sure, Lane Johnson completely shut him down on one play, but Barnett showed off a variety of moves. 

10. The Eagles' two rookie receivers worked with the third team on Tuesday, while DGB and Nelson Agholor worked with the twos. Shelton Gibson showed off his quickness and Mack Hollins' size and speed combo wasn't any less impressive. Also, Hollins wasn't wearing gloves, but it didn't seem to affect his ability to catch. 

Stupid observation of the day: Thanks to his afro and thick beard, Seumalo kind of looks like a lion with a mane.