How Jason Kelce has rejuvenated his career

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How Jason Kelce has rejuvenated his career

He didn't get cut. He didn't get traded. He didn't get benched.
No, Jason Kelce got better.
Kelce, the subject of nonstop speculation after a subpar 2016 season, has reshaped his game this year and in his seventh NFL season is playing the best football of his life.
"I think so," Kelce said Sunday after the Eagles trounced the Bears to improve to 10-1. "Across the board, it's been that way."
The Eagles are 10-1 with a nine-game winning streak, the offense is ranked third in the NFL, and a rejuvenated Kelce has been in the middle of everything.
Run blocking? The Eagles are second in the NFL with 148 rushing yards per game.
Pass blocking? Carson Wentz is having an MVP season with 28 touchdowns and five interceptions.
The entire line has been lights out this fall. But Kelce, in particular, has turned his career around.
You have to give the Eagles' brass credit for sticking with Kelce. Instead of just moving on and perhaps replacing him with Isaac Seumalo, O-line coach Jeff Stoutland worked tirelessly with Kelce during last season and in particular during the offseason, identifying his struggles and then working to correct them.
"It's been a lot of fun so far, and it was a struggle last year, especially through the first half of the season," Kelce said. "We've worked really, really hard, and Stout's been on me and he's staying on me all season with my hands and my footwork and my technique and it's really made an improvement in my game.
"I can't thank him and everyone else for sticking with me. It's been a pleasure this year to be able to play … not just myself but our entire offensive line, the way (Brandon) Brooks and Wiz (Stefen Wisniewski) are playing next to me are making my job easier, and the way the tackles are playing makes everybody's job easier. This has been a very fun year, I think for the entire offensive line so far."
With Kelce struggling halfway through last season, the offense sputtering and the Eagles losing games, Kelce and Stoutland began breaking down Kelce's technique.
Slowly, gradually, Kelce's level of play began improving. And this year, he's flat-out dominated.
"We really looked hard at a lot of the technique things," Kelce said. "Stout has been very critical and I don't know if it's when you're younger you get away with things because you're a little bit more athletic and a little bit stronger or if it's the no-huddle (under Chip Kelly from 2013-15) that allows you to get away with things, but I started to lose track of some of the fundamentals that allowed me to play at a high level.
"In particular, (my) hands. I think if you look at a couple games early (last year) it seems like I always have my hands outside. Sometimes if you're heavier you can get away with that, but when you're already undersized and you're losing that aspect of power, you're losing the leverage game, you're (going to struggle). Bad technique as well as being undersized is a bad recipe for an offensive lineman."
Kelce did make his second Pro Bowl team last year, but that was really just a tribute to his terrific career body of work than anything he did last year.
It wasn't until about this time a year ago that Kelce started to resemble vintage Jason Kelce once again.
Now, Kelce is better than ever, and it would be a shock if he's not picked to his third Pro Bowl team.

More importantly, the Eagles have won nine straight games, averaging 30.1 points per game during that stretch.
"I think it's a combination of I'm playing better myself and using better technique and I think the coaches have done a phenomenal job of putting everybody in good situations," he said. 

"It seems like every single play we've got dialed up is to a look that we want. When you have good players put in good positions it's going to lead to good football, and I think right now we have a lot of that."

More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

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More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

The Eagles have given veteran defensive end Chris Long a raise, but according to one report, Long is concerned enough about his playing time with the Eagles that he's mulling his options regarding his future.

What is certain is that at some point before March 15, Long signed a new contract with the Eagles that increases his 2018 base salary from $1 million non-guaranteed to $2½ million fully guaranteed.

However, NFL Network's Michael Silver reported Monday that Long may decide he doesn't want to accept the new contract — which he already signed.

According to Silver, Long is concerned about how many snaps he would get as a third-down rusher following the addition of Pro Bowl pass rusher Michael Bennett.

The Eagles officially acquired Bennett on March 14, although the deal was reported a week earlier. Long's new contract was filed with the NFLPA on March 15, but there is a good chance he agreed to it and signed it before the Bennett acquisition.

Whether or not Long knew Bennett was coming to the Eagles when he signed the restructured deal is unknown. But at some point Long knew about their interest in Bennett and even gave Bennett a "glowing recommendation" when the Eagles asked, according to an interview Long gave to SBNation.  

Long wouldn't appear to have many options. He could retire, in which case he would have to return the $500,000 bonus he received from the Eagles last week.

He could request a trade, which would be bizarre for someone who signed a contract extension just a few days earlier.

Or he could simply play under the terms of the contract restructure and pay increase, which was first reported by Field Yates of ESPN and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia with a source familiar with the renegotiation.

As for the contract itself, including that $500,000 roster bonus — which was also in the previous version of the contract — Long would receive $3 million guaranteed this year instead of $1.5 million non-guaranteed plus $750,000 in easily achieved roster bonuses.

Long had five sacks and forced four fumbles last year as a rotational defensive end. He wound up playing 496 snaps, 10th-most on the defense and only about 10 per game fewer than starter and Pro Bowler Brandon Graham and five per game fewer than starter Vinny Curry, who the Eagles released.

Long, who turns 33 next week, has 63½ career sacks. His 5.0 sacks last year were his most since 2013. He's won back-to-back Super Bowls the last two years with the Eagles and Patriots.

What happens next?

Long has demonstrated that the money is secondary to him. He donated his entire 2017 base salary to charity.

At some point very soon, the Eagles will need him to decide whether he's even going to have a 2018 base salary.

Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

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Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

A day after we found out that Brian Dawkins picked Troy Vincent to introduce him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony this summer, Terrell Owens has picked his presenter. 

No surprise: It's not Donovan McNabb.

After alienating many people in the league throughout his tremendous career, Owens picked a name from his early days. Longtime NFL assistant coach George Stewart, who was Owens' receivers coach in San Francisco, will introduce T.O. at the 2018 induction. 

In a video released by the Hall of Fame, Owens said Stewart "knew what to get out of me."

Now special teams coordinator and assistant head coach for the Chargers, Stewart has been an NFL coach for three decades. He began his time in San Francisco in 1996 (Owens' rookie season) as a special teams coach but was their wide receivers coach from 2000-02.

"Things that George Stewart may say, it may be shocking to a lot of people, but not to him because he knows who I am," Owens said. "... To know who Terrell Owens is, you really have to spend some time with him. Fast forward, George Stewart became a father figure to me."

The first season Stewart became the 49ers' receivers coach, Owens went to his first of six Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro for the first of five times in his career. Owens was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in all three of the seasons that Stewart held the position in San Francisco. 

Of course, Owens' growth under Stewart led to his becoming one of the biggest stars in the NFL.

Eventually, Owens forced his way out of San Francisco and got to Philadelphia. With the Eagles, Owens had a short and tumultuous two seasons, but was also dynamic on the field and nearly helped them pull off a Super Bowl win over the Patriots. 

Owens averaged 93.5 receiving yards per game during his time in Philadelphia, the highest average in franchise history. It wasn't his play that led to his downfall in Philly. It was his beef with McNabb, along with his attempt to strong-arm the Eagles into a new contract. 

Owens was a divisive personality for his entire career. It's likely the reason it took him three tries to make it into the Hall of Fame. Because his numbers don't lie: He's one of the best receivers of all time.