Remember back before training camp when we were all waiting for that scintillating right guard training camp competition between second-year pro Cam Jurgens and rookie Tyler Steen?
“The best player will play,” Nick Sirianni said in April, after the Eagles selected Steen out of Alabama with the second pick in the third round.
The Eagles have practiced 11 times since camp began late last month, and Steen has gotten exactly zero 1st-team reps at right guard.
This competition was over before it started.
It’s not that Steen hasn’t been good. He’s having a fine camp and you can see his potential. It’s just that Jurgens is on another level.
He's smart, powerful and athletic and took ownership of right guard as soon as he got the opportunity.
Jurgens said whether he gets all the reps with the first defense or none of them, it doesn’t change his approach.
“It doesn't matter, I’ve got to be ready to go no matter what,” he said after practice Monday. “I'm just worried about what I can do every day wherever they put me. I’m trying to get better every day and work on something small and hopefully by the end of this camp I'm getting stuff figured out, and I think I've been chipping away and getting better every week.”
The thinking initially was that Jurgens and Steen might alternate reps with the 1’s. Then the thinking was that whenever 35-year-old Jason Kelce sat out practice, Jurgens would move to center – his future position – and Steen would work with the 1’s at right guard, quite possibly his future position.
But since the Eagles get so many days off, Kelce hasn’t missed any practices. There have been some days where he’s skipped a drill or two, and Steen has moved to right guard in those situations. But they’ve been few and far between.
For the most part, Steen has been the second-team left tackle, and he’s looked very comfortable there. He played tackle at Alabama, so that’s his natural position.
Sirianni still won’t admit Jurgens is the opening-day right guard – competitive advantage and all that – but everything points to him joining Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Kelce and Lane Johnson in the latest version of an all Eagles draft pick o-line.
If there were any doubt it was erased when Jurgens didn’t play against the Ravens Saturday in the preseason opener. Sua Opeta started at right guard, with Steen at left tackle. Steen moved to right guard with the 3’s so he got reps at both spots in his first NFL game.
“I mean, them not playing me for this first preseason game, I guess it shows a little bit of faith in me and what I've been doing so far,” Jurgens said. “So I just need to be consistent and keep getting better.”
Jeff Stoutland two weeks ago lavished some pretty hefty praise on Jurgens, saying his footwork reminds him of three-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks and that he’s stronger than he realized last year when he was a rookie.
“I’m very happy with what he’s doing,” Stout said. “(And) I’m not one to throw sugar all over the place.”
As for Steen, Jurgens has been very impressed with his ability to learn two very different positions in his rookie training camp.
“Athletic, very athletic,” he said. “He's quick. He moves his feet very fast. He keeps his feet on the ground, and he's smart. He sees stuff and you can talk football to him. You can tell when you can talk football to somebody and they're talking your language. He's a football guy and he's very athletic and he's going to be a good player here.”