Rookie third-round draft pick Tyler Steen got his first rep at the position with the starters on Friday and it wasn’t because now-presumptive starter Cam Jurgens had fallen out of favor or was injured. The Eagles were simply giving entrenched veterans Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, and Landon Dickerson some in-practice maintenance during the back end of consecutive practices for the first time this summer.
If CNN, MSNBC, or FOX News was monitoring Eagles’ camp this race would already be called for Jurgens, the second-year player selected at No. 51 overall in 2022 as the eventual heir apparent to All-Pro center Jason Kelce.
“He’s done well. It’s all new for him,” Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said after Friday’s practice when discussing Jurgens. “I want to see the consistency. Again, it’s very early. We’re still watching. We’re still coaching. We’re still evaluating and I like what he’s doing. I really do. I think he’s doing a good job, but he’s got to stay consistent and it’s got to be every day.”
Although undersized for the guard position, Stoutland, like Kelce, has been particularly impressed with Jurgens’ strength.
“There’s things that we look for. I call them critical factors,” the well-regarded Eagles’ offensive line coach said. “I know he was strong, but I didn’t know he was this strong because you don’t see it when you’re playing center because sometimes you’re uncovered. Now he’s covered. I’m impressed with the power and strength of Cam. Very, very strong in the core.”
One of the narratives in projecting Steen as a potential starter was the rookie’s size at 6-foot-6 and 321 pounds. Typically the Eagles and Stoutland have used bigger bodies next to the undersized Kelce but the coach balked at that a bit by bringing up former All-Pro RG Brandon Brooks, who was a massive player.
“I know we talked about Brooks before, but one thing you didn’t realize about Brandon Brooks is he has tremendous feet,” Stoutland said. “He’s a great athlete. Great foot and body quickness. Cam has that.”
Steen, meanwhile, has started to cross-train between RG and his college position at Alabama, left tackle. That’s a dead giveaway that Jurgens is the guy because game-day backups have to have versatility.
“If you’re not a starting player right now, you have swing value or you won’t be one of the eight players we take to the game,” Stoutland explained.
Long-term the idea is still to have Jurgens replace Kelce when the latter eventually retires and for Steen to then take over at RG. The Eagles feel the best path forward in the short term is to get Jurgens on the field and allow Steen some breathing room to develop.
“Cam is a very smart player. He’s an intelligent player, he asks great questions in meetings, and he conceptualizes concepts very well when I teach them,” Stoutland said. “If something doesn’t make sense to him or he’s not sure, he’s not one of the players who will be hesitant to say, ‘Hey coach, wait a second’ A lot of players are afraid to ask because they don’t want you to look at him like, hey, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Cam doesn’t care. He’s pretty confident. Not pretty, this guy is really confident, trust me. He’s very confident. Not only in his knowledge but in his ability to play.”