The two biggest battles still raging at Eagles camp involve a rookie and a veteran. After three preseason games, they are still undecided.
Rookie Jason Kelce got the start at center Thursday night. It was decided that he might be a better fit for new offensive line guru Howard Mudd’s system than incumbent starter Jamaal Jackson. Kelce played the entire first half to mixed reviews.
A miscommunication between him and right guard Danny Watkins led to a 14-yard sack on Michael Vick early in the first quarter. Vick fumbled the ball and the Browns recovered at the Eagles’ 18-yard line.
“Whenever you see your quarterback fall like that, regardless of whose fault it is, it’s never a good feeling,” Kelce said. “It’s like the bottom of your stomach just falls out. We got to correct it. It won’t happen again, let’s put it that way.”
Kelce, who was also flagged for a 10-yard offensive holding penalty, seemed to get into the flow as the first half progressed. He provided the lead block on Ronnie Brown’s 13-yard touchdown run.
“I don’t know that I got better as the half went on. I think we communicated better as a group as the game went on,” Kelce said. “When we first went out there … a few of those plays right off the bat really just put us down because it wasn’t really the way we thought it was going to play out.”
Meanwhile, Jarrad Page might have solidified his role as the team’s starting free safety. He got turned around once in coverage, but came right back and made a nice stop on Peyton Hillis. Page didn’t do anything negative, according to coach Andy Reid.
“I think I played well,” Page said. “Of course, I’m very critical of myself, so I know there was definitely things I could have done better.”
His competition, last year’s starter Nate Allen, played the third and fourth quarters. Allen has been dealing with knee tendonitis after undergoing reconstructive surgery eight months ago. Allen intends to play though the pain and keep fighting for that starting spot.
“It is what it is. I’m just going in there and competing day in and day out,” Allen said. “Whatever happens in the end, that’s how it is — and I’m just going to play my role.”
When asked if either of last night’s starters — Kelce and Page — envisioned themselves starting in the season opener Sept. 11 in St. Louis, both took the high road.
“I think that’s up to the coaches,” Kelce said.
“That’s a front office decision,” Page said.