EAGLES

How Kelce is always hurt but never misses a game

EAGLES

Anybody who saw Jason Kelce hobble gingerly off the field at MetLife Stadium a week ago Sunday would be shocked to know Kelce is fine and ready to play against Washington this weekend.

Except anybody who’s paid attention to Kelce's career.

The dude is indestructible.

Kelce limped off the field as the Eagles were running out the clock in the final minutes of their win over the Jets on Dec. 5 in East Rutherford.

WATCH: Kelce overcome with emotion thinking about Lane Johnson’s plight

We could all see him struggling to walk on the sideline as he spoke with a trainer, and it was impossible not to wonder when we'd see him again.

He’s the Eagles’ oldest player – he just turned 34 last month. And he’s the 2nd-oldest center in the league, behind 36-year-old Alex Mack of the 49ers. And at 295 pounds he’s the lightest starting center in the NFL.

And he hasn’t missed a game since Chip Kelly’s second season.

Despite all of his injuries, Kelce on Wednesday pronounced himself healthy and ready for the stretch run as the Eagles try to make the playoffs for the fifth time in his career.

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On Sunday at the Linc, he’ll start his 119th consecutive regular-season game. That’s the longest current streak of any NFL interior lineman and will equal the 6th-longest streak of consecutive starts in Eagles history.

The only offensive linemen in franchise history to start more games in a row are Jon Runyan, who didn’t miss a start from 2000 through 2008, and Jerry Sisemore, who started 127 straight games from the end of 1974 through the start of 1982.

Now, before you start accusing me of jinxing Kelce by writing about his remarkable durability at a position where he’s lining up against guys 50 to 60 pounds bigger than him for 70 snaps a game over several years, remember one thing: There’s no such thing as jinxes! What we write does not affect what happens on the field! I promise!

In any case, a healthy Kelce is the Eagles’ biggest weapon down the stretch. There is nobody on the roster they would miss more if he couldn’t play.

And Kelce takes the mantle as one of the NFL's leading ironmen very seriously.

“It’s important,” Kelce said. “I think you always want to be out there. You want to be out there, No. 1, because you feel it’s your job and if you love playing the game you want to be out there and this is something I’ve dedicated my life and career toward so it’s really important to me if I can to go out there and play. 

“I feel a sense of responsibility, not just to my teammates but to myself to do things the right way and to put everything I have into it, and I think that’s most of the people in the NFL. 

“I’ve been really, really fortunate. I’ve missed games before and my mindset wasn’t any different, I just got hurt. But I’ve been lucky the last few years to be able to play a lot of games and consecutive snaps and everything like that. But yeah, it is important and the more continuity you have, especially at a position where you’re in charge of making calls and trying to put guys in the right position, I think is huge.”

READ: As COVID-19 cases rise around NFL, Eagles taking extra precautions

Kelce missed the last 14 games of the 2012 season with a knee injury and four games during the middle of 2014 with a sports hernia. 

The last game he missed was Oct. 26, 2014, when the Eagles lost 24-20 to the Cards in Glendale, Ariz. His streak began the next week in a 31-21 win over the Texans in Houston.

 

Just for context, some of his teammates that day were Trent Cole, Brandon Boykin, Jeremy Maclin and DeMeco Ryans.

The Eagles’ quarterback in that game was Mark Sanchez, who will be the color commentator on the FOX broadcast of the Eagles-Washington game Sunday.

Here’s a look at the longest streaks of consecutive starts in Eagles history:

  • 144 … Jon Runyan, OT [2000-2008]
  • 135 … Herm Edwards, DB [1977-1985]
  • 127 … Jerry Sisemore, OT [1974-1982]
  • 124 … Randy Logan, DB [1973-1981]
  • 120 … Reggie White, DE [1985-1992]
  • 119 … Stan Walters, OT [1975-1983]
  • 118 … Jason Kelce, C [2014-2021]
  • 116 … Ron Jaworski, QB [1977-1984]
  • 115 … Frank LeMaster, LB [1975-1982]

For the sake of comparison, the 2nd-longest current streak of consecutive starts on the Eagles belongs to Javon Hargrave at 23.

The next-longest on offense? Would you believe Landon Dickerson with 10?

The only NFL position players to start more consecutive games than Kelce are Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins (132) and Falcons tackle Jake Matthews (123). 

As tough and durable as Kelce is, safe to say the bye week came just in the nick of time.

“Hurt the knee in the Giants game, ankle in the Jets game, I’ve had a foot sprain, kind of got reaggravated (vs. the Jets),” he said. 

“It’s everything at this point. But no, the bye week came at a perfect time. I was fortunate with these injuries. Although they were hard in the game, the MRIs came back really positive and nothing really lingering, so all good stuff.”

“I feel really good right now. Feel really, really good.”