When Landon Dickerson was at Alabama, he liked to watch tape of various NFL centers just to try to pick up little tips and ideas that he could incorporate into his game.
One of those centers was Jason Kelce.
“I watched quite a few NFL centers because everybody’s got something that makes them unique and good at what they do,” Dickertson said Thursday. “(Kelce) has a lot of things that make him unique and a very good player. That’s the reason he’s been in this league for so long.”
Now Dickerson and Kelce aren’t just teammates, they’ve been playing next to each other for six weeks. Dickerson made his first two starts in place of Brandon Brooks at right guard and has been at left guard the last four weeks in place of Isaac Seumalo.
We all know Kelce is a remarkable physical specimen. Even at an under-sized 290 pounds, he's established himself as an all-time great center with his use of leverage, balance, athleticism and power. He's a four-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and on Sunday against the Chargers he'll make his 114 consecutive start. No other interior lineman in the NFL has started more than 72 in a row.
But it’s the cerebral side of Kelce’s game that’s really impressed Dickerson, the rookie 2nd-round pick.
“I don’t think people realize how much knowledge he has of the game,” Dickerson said before practice Thursday. “When he looks at defenses, coverages, alignments, techniques, linebackers, every aspect of the defense, I don’t think people understand how much he actually understands about the entire game of football.
“Just knowing tendencies of what individual players like to do, what D.C.’s (defensive coordinators), head coaches, like to do, whoever’s calling the defense, their history, knowing stuff like that. Being able to pick out tendencies and knowing, ‘Hey, this is what this guy likes to go to in this situation.’”
The Eagles have one of the best offensive line coaches in the business, but Jeff Stoutland and all the other Eagles’ offensive coaches don’t hesitate to involve Kelce in game planning.
That's rare in the NFL. But Kelce is a rare breed.
“He’s got a voice in how we scheme things up and how we do things and what he thinks is a good play to run to certain things and everything,” Dickerson said. “And that’s one thing that you probably won’t hear on TV copy, but he’s extremely intellectual when it comes to football.”
As for Dickerson, he’s gradually solidified his play since struggling in his first few starts. Despite his reputation as one of the best interior linemen in college football – when healthy – it took Dickerson a bit to figure the NFL out.
The last few weeks, he’s played at a high level, although you won’t hear that from him.
“It’d be pointless to say I’ve arrived somewhere,” he said. “I mean, I’m a rookie in the NFL, I’ve been doing all right by what I think and the coaches think I need to do, but there’s no point in getting satisfied. Because you get complacent. And you get complacent, you stop playing in the NFL.
“Different people respond differently to different things. I’m one of those people, you shoot for the stars. If you hit the moon you did pretty well. Always set the bar high.”
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