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Eagles center Kelce practices for 3rd straight day, making return against Houston more likely

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PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce made it through his third straight day of practice Thursday, making it more likely he will return from a sports hernia injury in this weekend's game against the Houston Texans.

The center has been out since having surgery at the end of September. He was cautious Thursday when asked about the possibility of playing.

"I'm not ready to say anything definite yet," Kelce said. "I'm feeling better, I'll say that. I think we're at the point where it's not going to get worse by playing."

A sports hernia is different than many other football-related injuries, with some unknowns when trying to recover, Kelce said.

"There's a pain I'm not really used to," Kelce said. "It's the type of injury that no matter how hard you work it in the weight room and the training room and everything, there's just certain things in football that put abnormal stresses on your body and are going to tweak it a little bit."

Kelce started all 16 games as a rookie in 2011 and all 16 games last year. He missed 14 games in 2012 with a torn ligament in one of his knees. He was a starter this year before hurting himself in the third game against the Washington Redskins.

He's missed the past four games and the Eagles are 2-2 without him.

David Molk, an undrafted free agent signed by San Diego in 2012 and who sat out all of 2013, has filled in for Kelce at center.

"It takes a little bit of time to work back in there," Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said of Kelce coming back. "You're certainly working on the things you need to do individually and then getting back working in a group. But they're pros, they're veterans, they understand how to deal with injuries and coming back from injuries. So it could be a shorter period of time than it could be for some."

The original estimate for Kelce's return was the Carolina Panthers game on Nov. 10. If he does make it back this Sunday, he would be a week ahead of schedule.

"I can't say I'm going to be out there and be 100 percent healthy and not have any issues on Sunday," Kelce said. "Because there could be a drastic instance where I'm completely off balance and I try to catch myself. It's probably going to be an ongoing thing."

Eagles coach Chip Kelly said he will wait until the week ends before making his decision on Kelce.

"He's looked good the last couple of days," Kelly said. "We'll see as we get extended through the week. And then we'll make a decision on Saturday with him."

NOTES: The Eagles had their full squad at Thursday's practice with the exception of safety Nate Allen (hamstring). Allen was on the field for the portion of practice the media is allowed to watch, but was listed as not participating on the official report. Nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin (hamstring) returned after missing Wednesday's practice. Running back Darren Sproles (knee), who missed last Sunday's game at Arizona and linebacker Mychal Kendricks (calf), who was limited to 20 plays last week against Arizona, were also practicing. Guard Todd Herremans continued to practice with a torn tricep and wide receiver Brad Smith (groin) also practiced on a limited basis.

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