The Philadelphia Eagles came away with a victory against the Baltimore Ravens yesterday, but they suffered a devastating blow on the offensive line when starting center Jason Kelce suffered a serious MCL injury that may keep him sidelined for the duration of the season.
Kelce officially tore his MCL, an injury that will keep him out for four to six weeks, and he suffered a partial tear of his AC (h/t Marc Sessler, NFL.com). If he elects to have surgery, his season will be over, but if he doesn’t, Kelce may be able to play again this season.
For the time being, the Eagles will be starting backup center Dallas Reynolds. Reynolds had spent the previous three seasons on the practice squad, and he finally earned a spot on the official 53-man roster earlier this training camp.
Reynolds played well in his first taste of NFL action yesterday, seeing reps in 37 snaps. Reynolds didn’t allow any sacks, hits or penalties, handled himself well as a run blocker and didn’t commit any penalties. The Eagles certainly would be better off with Kelce, who was poised for a breakout season, but Reynolds should be ready to contribute as a starter by next week.
He will see a big test, though, as the Arizona Cardinals boast a very solid defensive line that includes Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, each of whom is a top-10 defensive lineman in the league. The following week is the ferocious New York Giants pass rush, then the Pittsburgh Steelers tough defense and then the Detroit Lions defense with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
Reynolds will certainly have his hands full, and it will help if right guard Danny Watkins plays better than he’s been playing.
And it adds to the list of injured centers Andy Reid has seen during his days with the team. Bubba Miller was set to be the starter in 2001 but missed the entire season due to an injury. Hank Fraley missed eight games with a shoulder injury in 2005. Jamaal Jackson tore a leg ligament in 2009, and then tore his triceps in Week 1 of 2010 and missed nearly the entire season.
Miller lost his job after 2001, Fraley lost his job after 2005 and Jackson lost his job after 2011. I doubt Kelce will lose his job after ’12, though, considering the progression he showed in training camp this year. Offensive line coach Howard Mudd is also a big fan of Kelce’s quick and undersized qualities which makes him almost an Olin Kreutz mold.
What is for sure, though, is that the entire offensive line will need to play much better for the rest of 2012, considering two starting linemen are already out for the year and quarterback Michael Vick has a bad injury history.