Eagles are Being ‘Smart’ with Wentz, Foles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The goal has always been Week 1 for Carson Wentz, the Eagles' superstar quarterback who will hit the eight-month mark next week in his rehabilitation from ACL and LCL knee surgery on Dec. 13 of last year.
That goal isn't just for Wentz, however.
In today's NFL, where offseason and training-camp practices have been dramatically scaled-back since the 2011 CBA was implemented, most coaches wave weighed the thought of preparation vs. well being and come to the conclusion that the best option is to get to the season-opener with as many healthy bodies as possible.
As confirmation of that consider Doug Pederson's own words on Tuesday when asked what he hoped to accomplish in Thursday's preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Well, number one, no major injuries, coming out of the game healthy," the coach explained.
Actions always speak louder than words, however, and the organization's handling of its top two quarterbacks -- Wentz and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles -- is even more evidence of what's going on.
Wentz is still not cleared for contact by the doctors and has been scaled back to individual work and some 7-on-7 drills as the Eagles try to create a more "controlled environment" after an early camp scare during team drills when a scrum in front of the third-year pro had hearts skipping a beat at the NovaCare Complex.
Foles, meanwhile, has been shut down for three consecutive practices after he felt a little twinge in the trap muscle behind his throwing arm.
“Muscle spasms, right here,” Foles said after practice Tuesday, pointing to the right side of his neck and upper back. “I know all you are wanting to go in every which direction. It’s going to be fine. Just being smart with it.”
Foles indicated that the issue didn't arise from a particular play or throw, just the wear-and-tear a QB goes through in this league.
“Sometimes you throw so much that some things get aggravated,” he explained. “It’s that time of year where you just try to be smart. I’m in the training room a lot. We’ve got a good regimen going on. I want to be out there every day but right now we’re just focusing on getting this thing healthy and I’ll be out there as soon as I can.”
Foles is also aware that an elbow issue which came him away from the majority of camp last year is in the forefront of most minds so he spent some time explaining what the preseason is about for veteran players.
“As a football player, as an athlete, you’re always going to have nicks and bruises and different things going on that you play through,” he said. “That’s part of being an athlete. There’s also a time for everything. This is a time when you want to be smart. I want to be out there and play but I also know what’s best for the team, and it’s getting to be 100 percent.”
Pederson has remained coy about playing time in the preseason for his two stars at QB but most expect to see a not of third-stringer Nate Sudfeld and South Jersey Native Joe Callahan, something Callahan himself confirmed after practice on Tuesday.
"Me and Nate (Sudfeld) have been told that we'll get a majority of the time throughout the preseason," Callahan admitted.
As for Wentz, the plan remains the same moving into next week as the all clear for contact will not be sounded until he's closer to the nine-month mark post-surgery, according to independent surgeons who have consulted with 973espn.com.
“I think next week is going to be the same type of routine,” Wentz confirmed. “And then I’ll kind of keep talking with the doctors and the coaches and kind of make a plan, as we go.”
Wentz actually had one of his sharpest days throwing the football in red-zone work Tuesday, tossing impressive TD passes to tight ends Dallas Goedert and Joshua Perkins. To date, Wentz has practiced at least some in 10 of 11 sessions, a positive sign indicating he's not dealing with any swelling issues.
"I’d love to be out there on Thursday [against the Steelers]," Wentz said. "I’d love to play every day. But for me personally, I think I’ll be fine if I don’t get out there in the preseason.”
For now, however, Sudfeld and Callahan will do the heavy lifting while the Eagles try to get to Sept. 6 as healthy as possible.
“It’s a great opportunity for Nate and Joe to go out there and play,” Foles said. “I think Nate has the potential and ability to be a starter in this league."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen