Last time Jason Peters wasn’t in an Eagles training camp, Donovan McNabb was still going to Pro Bowls, Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook were team MVPs, Juan Castillo was still coaching offensive linemen and Andy Reid was five years away from going to the Chiefs.
It’s been a while.
For the first time since 2008, Peters is not in Eagles camp.
Peters spent 12 years with the Eagles, starting 154 games, making the Pro Bowls seven times and 1st-team all-pro twice, winning a Super Bowl ring (even though he didn’t play in the game) and building a resume that could see him inducted into the Hall of Fame one day.
J.P. officially became a free agent in March and remains unsigned, although he has said he hopes to continue playing. The 39-year-old Peters has played 17 seasons, including five with the Bills.
Jason Kelce was a rookie in 2011, which was J.P.’s third year with the Eagles. They’re two of the most celebrated offensive linemen - or players, really - in franchise history, and Kelce has spoken a lot about how much he learned over the years from Peters.
So Wednesday was very different for Kelce.
This is Kelce's first camp without Peters.
After practice Wednesday, Kelce spoke eloquently - as usual - about an aspect of Peters' Eagles tenure that a lot of people don't know about.
“You know, everybody knows about his ability to play,” he said. “Eventual Hall of Fame, the best player I’ve played with. Just a tremendous, tremendous player,.
“But he never really got the credit he deserved from a leadership standpoint. He might not have been a vocal guy, he never really liked talking to you guys much, but he loved talking to young guys, he loved staying after practice, he loved talking in the weight room.
“He was around the building constantly. To have a guy that’s been around that long, to see how much he put into it, not just physically but mentally how available he was to the organization and the building and his teammates. That’s rare to find, especially with an older guy. So we’re going to miss all of that. We’re not going to be able to replace it.”
Of course, we’re all smart enough to understand that until Peters formally announces his retirement or signs with another team, there’s always a chance he’ll be back in Philly.
Honestly, would you be shocked?
“You never know,” Kelce said with a laugh.
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