‘I’m just trying to be myself’

Kelce’s retirement – reported the day after the team’s season-ending loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and made official by the Eagles great during a tearful farewell – was something Philadelphia and general manager Howie Roseman had been preparing for, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It might well be impossible when considering Kelce’s greatness on the field, much less the indelible mark he left off of it with the fanbase.

“I don’t think you can replace a guy like that,” quarterback Jalen Hurts said Wednesday, “but we’ve got special guys here.”

Jurgens is hoping to ascend to that special category and he’ll have ample help doing so, with stalwart tackles Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson on his left and right, respectively, and two-time Pro Bowler Landon Dickerson at left guard.

He’ll also have the experience of playing with Kelce to look back on. As a rookie, Jurgens was Kelce’s backup. As a second-year player, he started next to him.

“I think it’s very valuable,” Jurgens said of playing with Kelce. “I learned so much playing behind him my first year. Then this last year, I played guard beside him, and you know every single day there’s something to learn. It was just fun being in that room and being in that environment and learning something every day.

“Kelce’s voice really showed throughout the room, and everyone listened while he spoke. It was really helpful and insightful. It’s easy to follow someone like that and learn from that. So, it’s just going to be a little different without him this year.”

As Hurts noted, it’s unlikely the Eagles can truly replace Kelce.

He helped the the franchise to its first Super Bowl victory, aided in the Eagles advancing to another, made seven Pro Bowls and captivated fans – first regionally and then across the country.

Jurgens, though, isn’t looking to replace Kelce, he’s just aiming to get used to a new locker, likely the center-QB exchange with Hurts and settle in as the Eagles’ new starting center.

“It’s like what can I do today, what can I do to learn, what can I do to get better and how can I bet the best football player that I can be,” he said. “Not how can I be what he was you know. What are we going to do tomorrow? That’s how I have to look at it.”

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