Eagles center Kelce feeling more comfortable in second season

Posted: June 15, 2012

TUESDAY'S RARE media session with Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd gave reporters more insight into Mudd's enthusiasm for second-year center Jason Kelce, whom Mudd compared to eight-time All-Pro Kevin Mawae, in terms of being so advanced as an NFL rookie.

Mudd reiterated that Kelce will be making protection calls at the line this season. Last year, quarterback Michael Vick made the calls, to take the burden off the sixth-round draftee from Cincinnati.

"Just having a year under my belt, having a year with Mike in the film room, a year with this unit, I feel much more comfortable. I feel the guys feel much more comfortable with me being the guy to make the calls," Kelce said Wednesday, after the next-to-last spring workout.

Kelce said he feels he has built trust with Vick, whom he said was not enamored of the idea of a rookie center when last season began.

"The trust just keeps getting better and better between me and Mike," Kelce said. "He told me himself after the season, ‘When they first told me you were starting, I was kind of like, well, we'll see how this goes.' There's not that trust or respect level, because you haven't played with the guy yet. As the season went on [the trust] got better and better."

Kelce also talked about the road trip he made this offseason at Mudd's behest, back around the time of the NFL Scouting Combine, to Indianapolis, to talk to former Colts and current Packers center Jeff Saturday about playing the position. This was written about extensively in the March 31 Daily News, but for those of you who can't quickly access your leather-bound volumes of past DN sports sections, Kelce felt he learned a lot from Saturday.

"He told me how to watch film," Kelce said Wednesday. "Every single time we've watched film in the past, it's been, throw on a game, watch the guy play for a little bit, try to figure out — all right, he's a big, strong guy, he likes to bullrush. [Saturday felt that] guys I've struggled with in 3-4s, like [Dallas noseguard] Jay Ratliff, don't just study about what type of player he is, diagnose everything, down and distancewise. A lot of defenses will be in situations, down and distance, that will give away tendencies for a pass rush. Study their stances ... if you can study the little details about a defensive player [you'll be prepared]. He said, ‘I'd rather play Jay Ratliff, a guy I've watched 16 games on, than him get hurt and see a guy come in who hasn't played ever before in the NFL and you've got no film of him.' He studies it that much, to where he gets comfortable. Come gametime, it doesn't matter how good the guy is, he already knows everything about him." n

Contact Les Bowen at bowenl@phillynews.com

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