Eagles TC Day 3: Wentz Takes First-Team Reps in Pads
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - If there was any doubt that Carson Wentz was on-line to start Week 1 of the NFL season, that should have evaporated on Saturday in South Philadelphia as the Eagles put on the pads for the first time this summer and the star quarterback took part in team drills.
Wentz, who is still less than eight months off surgery for a torn ACL and LCL, split work on the first-team with Nick Foles and showed off impressive mobility on a number of occasions, even with the brace of his left knee.
"I thought he did a nice job operating in there," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said of Wentz. "He looks comfortable. Just settled right back into the saddle. So, really pleased with where he is right now."
There was good and bad, perhaps the best being a bullet down the rightsideline to Shelton Gibson for 30 yards, maybe a back-shoulder hook-up with rookie tight end Dallas Goedert or even a scrambling flip to Corey Clement that would have been a big gainer. The worst was an air-mailed touch pass to Zach Ertz that Jalen Mills was able to easily pick off.
For the fans in attendance, however, the scariest sequence was easily the pocket collapsing around Wentz's legs on one occasion but the third-year QB came out of it unscathed.
"I think we have to be very mindful of where he is, and I think our defense is," Groh said. "I know Coach Schwartz [Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz] has addressed it with those guys. Everybody knows we want to get everybody in the first game. Obviously, we're out here to improve and get better and work on our craft, but we also want to try to keep everybody healthy. We've got a veteran team that knows how to practice, so I think we'll be able to accomplish that."
A key test will be Sunday's practice and seeing how Wentz's knee rebounds from the toughest test it's had since the injury occurred on Dec. 10 of last year.
Nick Foles split first-team work with Wentz during both 7-on-7s and the team periods while Nate Sudfeld was No. 3 and South Jersey native Joe Callahan did some mop-up work from there.
DAY 3 NEWS AND NOTES:
-The Eagles signed another receiver before practice, DeAndre Carter, an undersized 5-foot-8 slot option who was originally an UDFA of the Ravens back in 2015. Remember both Alshon Jeffery (shoulder surgery) and Bryce Treggs (knee soreness) have not been practicing. Treggs mentioned he was able to do more today so perhaps he is inching closer to coming off the NFI list.
-When Foles left the field after practice he was serenaded by the hijacked Vikings "Skol" chant.
-Brandon Brooks left practice for a little bit and rookie sixth-round pick Matt Pryor got some first-team reps at right guard.
"It felt good," Pryor told 973espn.com after practice. "To be honest I felt they were going to put in a more older guy in there so when he [offensive line coach] Jeff Stoutland called on me I felt it was my opportunity. I am trying to work my way into that backup guy if needed."
-Star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox also left the field a little ealy but seemed fine walking off.
-On Day 3, Sidney Jones was back in the slot with the first team, his second opportunity after De'Vante Bausby was looked at on Friday.
-The Eagles had an extensive 9-on-7 period which is rare these days and the highlight was linebacker Corey Nelson stuffing Wendell Smallwood, which got the defense amped up.
-Greg Ward, the ex-University of Houston product now in his second year of trying to transition to WR, flashed again today with a great one-handed leaping grab off a shaky Wentz throw on a bubble screen and an impressive catch-and -run on another screen opportunity.
"Greg has come in, and just like a lot of quarterbacks, he's got that quarterback mentality," Groh said. "He's used to being in the building early, staying late. Watches a bunch of tape on his own.
"He kind of is shadowing [WR] Nelson [Agholor] a lot with a lot of things he's doing and doing a tremendous job of that. As he has made that transition, you see him get more and more comfortable. Not thinking as much about playing the position of wide receiver. Just reacting off what the defense is doing. He has excellent short-area quickness, really soft hands, reliable hands. He can lock the ball up in traffic and transition quickly to a runner. So, we're excited about Greg and his potential."
-Veteran Darren Sproles looked as explosive as ever as he attempts to return from a torn ACL, darting up the field on a draw play that made its way all the way to the third level and Malcolm Jenkins.
-Safety Rodney McLeod showed off his savvy but sniffing out a slip screen to Jay Ajayi that went nowhere.
-LaRoy Reynolds, an excellent special-teams player, had his way with Richard Rodgers during one blocking drill but also was badly juked by Donnell Pumphrey on one simulated return.
-Isaac Seumalo had at least one errant snap today and got an earful from Doug Pederson. After practice Mike Groh said the troubles tend to be on running plays when Seumalo is trying to get upfield too quickly and lauded the third-year player for his position versatility.
-Comedy has been the theme at training camp so far. Today Pederson interrupted Groh's presser to ask the OC, “I know you don’t want to put a timetable on Carson but what’s the timetable?" Day 1 we had the Wentz honeymoon joke, Day 2 it was a mischievous field judge begging a security guard to back the media off the sideline only to implore us to come back behind the guard's back.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen