Kelce's heir apparent Jurgens shows why Eagles drafted him


Watching Cam Jurgens obliterate defensive tackles, get out front on running plays and expertly make pre-snap reads and calls, it was easy to forget it was his first NFL game.

With Jason Kelce out after elbow surgery, Jurgens started the Eagles’ preseason opener against the Jets Friday night and played the entire first half with both the first and second offense. In all, he played 36 snaps at center and it was quite an auspicious debut for the rookie second-round pick from Nebraska.

“Cam’s come in and done a really good job,” Jalen Hurts said. “He has so much ability. So much ability. He can run, he’s very smart, and I know he’s early on in it being a rookie, but he’s shown so much. 

“And for me, it’s just being a diligent process, making sure we’re all on the same page, whether it’s the snap count, how we’re ID’ing something, how we’re seeing the game. I’m excited for Cam.”

The Eagles expect the 34-year-old Kelce back for the regular-season opener against the Lions in Detroit on Sept. 11. But if he’s not? 

Jurgens showed Friday he can handle it.

“I felt really good about it,” he said. “I was trying to make everything quick and go with it and see what the defense was doing. They were doing a little different stuff, and it’s fun to see that on the field and go back and (the coaches) are asking questions about it and you’re able to dissect it a little bit.”

More: Roob's observations — Hurts excels, a rookie impresses, more

You have to love Jurgens’ attitude. There’s nothing about him that says rookie.

Whether it’s his practice habits, his conditioning, his study habits, even his interviews, he carries himself like a savvy veteran, not a 22-year-old rookie.

Spend a few months with Kelce, Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata, and you’re going to figure a lot of things out. 

“All the veterans on the o-line, everybody’s great,” Jurgens said postgame. “They’re all kind of helping me and it’s been like that. It’s cool because I started this game, but nothing really changed with those veterans. They’re saying the same stuff, helping me. It’s been like that this whole camp. Couldn’t be in a better room.”

Watching Jurgens pulling, it’s impossible not to make the Kelce comparison. You just can’t do it. They’re so similar, with that rare combination of power, athleticism, quickness and intelligence.

You don’t want to get too carried away, because Kelce is a five-time Pro Bowler and likely Hall of Famer, and Jurgens has played exactly one half of football.

But you literally can’t watch Jurgens and not think Kelce.

Ask Jurgens about pulling and here’s what he says:

“They’ve been doing that with Kelce for years, and it’s a great system to be in,” he said. “That’s stuff I excel at.”

So even Jurgens is making the comparison ... kind of.

It was fun to watch Kelce, Johnson, Mailata, Isaac Seumalo and Landon Dickerson — who also didn’t play Friday — waiting for Jurgens on the sideline after each drive to quiz him on what he saw.

“I come to the sideline (and we) go through different protection calls that we had out there, they ask me what I’m seeing,” he said. “Just a little bit of everything.”

Jurgens fit right in on the TD drive with the first offense. Heck of a way to start an NFL career.

More: What was most encouraging about Hurts' performance

“It’s fun,” he said. “Haven’t played football in a while. Get into a game and you score on your first drive? Nothing better than that, especially my first game in the NFL. 

“It’s pretty surreal. I was (thinking) last night of all the games — Little League, high school, college, up to this level. So it was a pretty cool feeling scoring on the first drive.”

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