It was a disappointment last season when Jamaal Jackson went down in the opening game against the Packers. He worked very hard to get back into the position to play after a late season injury in 2009, but had his 2010 season cut extremely short.
Jackson had much more time to rehab in 2010, and it looked like he would be welcomed back into the starting lineup for 2011. However, new offensive line coach Howard Mudd is going to evaluate all his options.
Mudd is notorious for going against the grain when it comes to his offensive line. Rather than putting together a massive group of lineman to manhandle defenders, Mudd prefers to use smaller, more athletic lineman. Jason Kelce, a sixth round pick in the 2011 draft, fits this bill perfectly.
When drafted, it seemed like Kelce may be a player the Eagles developed under Howard Mudd to be a contributor down the line. This hasn’t been the case. Kelce has had many opportunities to work with the first-team offense during Training Camp, and will get to start Thursday’s game against the Browns.
He’s clearly a player that Mudd thought would be a perfect fit in his system and he’s not hesitating to test the young player. Players that are drafted in the sixth round aren’t typically asked to start out of the gate, but Kelce has a legitimate chance.
Thus far in the preseason, Kelce has impressed. He’ll have one final audition against the Browns before Mudd and company make a final decision.
If he plays well, I think Mudd will make Kelce his guy. He fits what Mudd looks for in a lineman more than Jackson.
Kelce has a rare opportunity that most players drafted in his position do not. It will be interesting to see if he can take advantage.