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May 24, 2017

What they’re saying: Kelce ready to move forward as Eagles center

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The Eagles added a bunch of depth at the interior offensive line spots, which makes it a little weird that a player who was the subject of trade speculation this offseason will start at center. PhillyVoice reported that the Eagles won’t release Jason Kelce a few months ago, and he is now their starting center.

On the first day of OTAs, the Daily News’ Les Bowen caught up with Kelce, who tried not to think about any of the trade rumors:

"You drive yourself crazy if you try to read too much into what's going on," Kelce said. "My whole offseason has kind of just been - really the only thing I can control is my game and the way I play and what I do, really. So I've just really tried to hit the weight room, work on technique, work to get my game back to what it used to be.

"I just feel like at times last year . . . I was dominant, at times there were games where I didn't do a great job. You go back and watch film, you try to make the correction, you try to make sure that moving forward, I'm the same player I've been in the past."

Kelce got off to a rough start last season, but he improved as the year moved along and even made the Pro Bowl as an alternate. It didn’t look like he would stick around in Philly back in January, but here Kelce is, still the first line of defense for Carson Wentz.

In case you missed it at PhillyVoice

1.    Practice notes: The Birds took the field for OTAs, which gave us a first look at the Eagles depth chart in 2017. As always, Jimmy made some observations from Derek Barnett (good) to Dorial Green-Beckham (bad).

2.    Tardy Fletcher: The Eagles’ highest-paid player wasn’t at the first day of OTAs, which will always raise eyebrows in Philly.

3.    Up for grabs: Listing the potential position battles on the Eagles depth chart. At least for OTAs, 2016 third-round pick Isaac Seumalo will get a crack at first-team reps at left guard.

4.    No Fun League no more: The NFL and Roger Goodell actually did a good thing by relaxing the celebration rules and the Eagles reacted.

5.    Escaping the pocket: The Eagles will try to have Wentz extend more plays with his legs this season.

6.    On the shelf: One of the Eagles’ most important undrafted free agents will miss a couple of months with a strained MCL.

Other Eagles news, notes and analysis from around the web

Best offseason acquisition for all 32 NFL teams: ESPN.com

Tim McManus believes that the Eagles’ top offseason acquisition is, big surprise, Alshon Jeffery:

Per ESPN Stats & Information, Eagles receivers dropped a league-high 5.8 percent of their targets and finished second-to-last in receiving yards (1,849). Jeffery, when healthy, gives QB Carson Wentz a legitimate No. 1 wideout. "He's exciting to watch," head coach Doug Pederson said. "He's a big target, obviously, and we've just got to get him and Carson continuing to stay on the same page as we go throughout the whole offseason."

NFL draft trade retrospective: A team-by-team look at the best moves of the last decade: Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated

The Eagles’ move to trade up a few spots in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft for Fletcher Cox was their best trade:

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s a swap of first-rounders plus a fourth- and sixth-round selection for Cox, who now is the centerpiece of Philadelphia’s defense and has notched two straight Pro Bowl nods. The Eagles were very active during the early rounds of that ’12 draft, also sending Kevin Kolb to Arizona for CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and pick No. 51; and acquiring LB DeMeco Ryans from Houston as part of a trade involving three draft slots.

Adjusted Interceptions 2016: Vincent Verhei, Football Outsiders

Carson Wentz was pretty lucky in terms of dropped interceptions according to Football Outsiders, but he doesn’t hold a candle to Eli Manning!

Top front sevens in 2017: Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com

Rosenthal ranked the Birds’ front seven ninth overall in the NFL:

Philadelphia's cornerbacks made this group look worse that it really was last season. The Eagles' front consistently applied pressure under Jim Schwartz. And the unit boasts enviable depth, with players like Chris Long and Beau Allen not listed above. Cox and Graham would be bigger stars if the Eagles weren't knee-deep in that 7-9 bull---- the last two seasons. Jernigan and Barnett should add more juice than departed Eagles Connor Barwin and Bennie Logan supplied.

Practice Talk: Tommy Lawlor, Iggles Blitz

Among other topics, Lawlor mentioned Marcus Smith’s baffling absence:

Maybe Smith is saving his legs for the summer and fall. Or maybe he’s just an idiot. I hope he has a good reason for this. Proven vets can skip workouts, but underachievers like Smith need every rep possible to try and prove why they should be on the team.


Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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