Jason Kelce will be ready to go.
Of course, he will be, because, well, when isn’t he?
The last time he wasn’t was coming out of a game on Sept. 21, 2014, when a sports hernia sent him to the surgeon. He missed a month, saying on Wednesday that it was the most painful injury he’s had in his career.
“That was probably the toughest one, for sure, because everything in any sport starts with your core,” said Kelce, who turned 33 earlier this month. “If that’s not sitting properly or working like it should, it affects everything, from power to speed to quickness to sneezing or laughing.”
So, a painfully banged-up left elbow won’t stop Kelce on Monday night when the Seattle Seahawks visit Lincoln Financial Field. He is good to go, and it will be his 100th straight start at center for the Eagles.
“I don’t know that it means much,” he said of the milestone. “I don’t think a number means much. It’s just trying to be available, do your job, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that. Obviously, injury rates in this league are pretty substantial. I’m pretty lucky, all things considered, to not have injuries over the course of that. A lot of it is just pretty good fortune.”
He's meant plenty to the Eagles for the past decade.
“I'll tell you, this guy, I got so much respect for him as a football player on and off the football field,” said head coach Doug Pederson on Wednesday. “He's somebody that does things right all the time and his game may not be perfect each week, but this guy, he practices, and plays hurt.
“He gives of himself for his teammates. He's a great leader, not only in the offensive line room but I think on this football team. It's one of the reasons I make him a captain every year and the team respects that and the team looks at that. … I've never really been around a player, an offensive lineman of his caliber that does what he does day in and day out and a ton of respect for Jason.”
Kelce had his elbow jacked-up pretty good late in the first half of Sunday’s loss in Cleveland. He stalked the sideline like a bull, talking to whoever would listen, refusing to go into the medical tent before yielding and going into the locker room just before his teammates did at halftime.
“It wasn’t so much the tent,” he said. “I didn’t need to be evaluated. I knew what was wrong. I knew what had happened. So, what’s the point of me going into the tent for you to tell me what I already know?
“That was part of it. And the other part was just being upset with the situation. Obviously, this was a big game, and I don’t want to come out, and I don’t want to miss time. Those guys are counting on me, and people are counting on me.”
He started the second half and finished the game with his elbow in a brace.
“It’s responding well,” said Kelce. “It was pretty swollen Monday after the game. But I’ll be ready to go this week. It’s feeling surprisingly pretty good. Over the last couple of days, the swelling has gone down. The trainers have done a good job of kind of pushing the stiffness out of it.”
Defensive end Brandon Graham has been with Kelce ever since the center arrived as a sixth-round pick in 2011 out of the University of Cincinnati. He’s seen that Kelce toughness.
“He’s a no (BS) guy,” said Graham, who joined the Eagles a year earlier than the center. “He’s cool. He’s out here working hard every day, he’s got aggression every day. He’s mad one minute then he’s happy. He’s up and down, but what I love is that he’s always got that edge when he’s on that field.”
Fletcher Cox came the year after Kelce did and the two regularly battle in practice with Cox lining up at defensive tackle.
“It's always a pleasure, man, going against Kelce in practice, during training camp when I do go against him,” said Cox. “Kelce, he's a tough guy. He's a great teammate. We always look forward to that one-on-one battle during training camp.
"We know when we do get that chance to go up against each other because, at the same time, we're making each other better, and it shows in practice, shows up on the game tape, things that we talk about that I could have beat him on or he got me on this, so there's just so much respect for him.
“He's a real tough guy, one of the smartest centers around the league, one of the most athletic centers around the league. I think he's one of the best centers in the league.”
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