For Jason Kelce, training camp is just as much about bonding with teammates and getting to know the new guys as it is about getting out on the practice field and grinding.
So far this summer, the bonding part has been a lot harder than usual.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand all the parameters that are in place to keep things safe,” Kelce said Tuesday. “But that somewhat comes at the expense of the personal connections and the ability to talk to new guys and to forge relationships. It’s a little bit less so when somebody’s covering half their face with a mask.
You can always leave it to Kelce to put everything perfectly in perspective.
Kelce is beginning his 10th year with the Eagles and said he always feeds off the energy and passion that the younger guys on the team bring to the meeting rooms and practice field.
He makes a great point when he says how the Eagles’ 2019 season really turned around when those young guys were forced to start playing bigger roles.
They were 5-7 and going nowhere with a largely veteran cast.
“As some of these young guys played, it almost felt like it really rejuvenated the whole team, especially at a point in the season when we were really trending in the wrong direction,” Kelce said. “All of a sudden these young guys come in, Greg Ward, Boston Scott, Miles Sanders turned it on. All these guys were really huge for us down the stretch. You always need balance. You need experience, you need energy, you need intelligence and you need some gusto and it’s really fun to work with these guys.”
Ward, Scott and Sanders were at the heart of the Eagles’ 4-0 finish that turned led to an NFC East title and a playoff berth.
GM Howie Roseman made a concerted effort to get younger this offseason, and despite late additions like Jason Peters and Vinny Curry, the Eagles have gone from the 3rd-oldest team in the NFL as of opening day last year to 11th-youngest today, according to Spotrac.
“Having young guys around really helps, to be honest with you,” Kelce said. “It really engages you. Having a guy who comes in and is playing in the NFL for the first time realizing his life’s ambitions and dreams coming to fruition for the first time, those guys naturally have a lot of energy, and I think that’s where balance in a team comes.”
Kelce turns 33 in November and is the 3rd-oldest player in the roster, behind Jason Peters (38) and DeSean Jackson (33). Only five others have hit 30.
The current 80-man roster has 29 players who are 23 or younger.
It’s all helping keep the three-time all-pro center feeling young as he continues to build on one of the great careers in Eagles history.
Kelce came into the NFL with Jaiquawn Jarrett, Casey Matthews, Fireman Danny and other guys who have long since faded into NFL oblivion.
“I’m really enjoying some of these guys, the new personalities that we have,” he said. “That does a good job of keeping you energized.”
And an energized Jason Kelce is very good news for the Eagles.
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