Jason Kelce Never Factored in Offseason Upheaval into Decision to Return

The veteran center also talked about meeting his eventual replacement, Landon Dickerson
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PHILADELPHIA – Jason Kelce had lunch with his eventual replacement on Tuesday.

A day later, the Eagles veteran center talked about his early impressions of second-round draft pick Landon Dickerson.

“He’s as advertised,” said Kelce on Wednesday during a videoconference call as Day 2 of Phase Two was underway at the team’s training facility in South Philly.

“He’s a big, fun guy, loves the game of football. You can tell that right away. He loves talking about football. He’s got a great personality, so I think this kid’s going to offer a lot to our room. He’s big, he’s physical, he’s strong, he’s smart, he’s got all the tools. I’m excited to work with him. I’m just excited that he’s here.”

Nick Sirianni’s competition mantra does not apply to Kelce. He is the starting center and will be the starting center on Sept. 12 in Atlanta.

In a recent article by Gregg Rosenthal, however, Dickerson was projected by the NFL.com writer to be the starting left guard over Isaac Seumalo for the season opener.

If healthy, it might happen.

Dickerson, though, is ticketed to eventually be the Eagles’ center when the day comes that Kelce calls it a career and the five-year debate can begin as to whether or not he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Kelce talked about the decision to return for his 11th season and prepare to make his 106th straight start. He hasn’t missed a game since Oct. 26, 2014.

He said that all the offseason upheaval - the firing of Doug Pederson, the trading of his friend Carson Wentz, and owner Jeffrey Lurie dubbing this season a “transition period” - never factored into his thought process.

“Really, deciding to play football is, in my opinion, very much whether I can dedicate myself in the proper way to my teammates and my coaches,” he said. “It’s less about do I want to do it because I’m always going to want to play football.

“Physically, can I make that dedication and make that sacrifice in the way that I think it’s acceptable to the game and my teammates? That’s the way that it happens. I feel like I’m still able to do that. I still feel like I can do that and I’m excited to go out there and do it again.”

Kelce will turn 34 during the season.

He’s closer to the end than the beginning, and it would have been easy to call it quits, or even request a trade. Again, factors that never swayed him.

“There’s no question we’re in a transition period,” he said. “We have a new head coach, a new coaching staff, a completely new quarterback, there’s a lot of change that’s happened within the building, so there’s no question we’re in a transition period.”

That does not mean Kelce believes in the low expectations that many fans and national media have for the 2021 version of the Eagles.

“I think the biggest difference between football and a lot of other sports is that being in a transition period doesn’t mean you can’t compete and be competitive,” said Kelce.

"I think the bottom line is we can be competitive, win games, we can win this division, I have no doubt about that if we go about it the right way, we improve and get better as a team.

“…I don’t try to make too much on what I think the season will end up being. Maybe some people say you’re naïve, but I go into every game thinking we’re going to win the game and I go into every season thinking we’re going to be successful. I believe in the guys in this building. I believe in my teammates. I think that’s part of being part of a team. I don’t know if that ever changes much.”

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.

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