All Eyes on Wentz as Eagles’ OTAs are Set to Begin
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - If you're being logical it's not really all that important that Carson Wentz is ready to go for the Eagles in May.
There is plenty of context to that, however, namely that the face of Philadelphia's franchise had his previous two seasons derailed by injury, coupled with perhaps the best security blanket in the NFL, Nick Foles, now calling Jacksonville home and finally the realization that Wentz is on the verge of a big-money extension which figures to carry an average annual value of $30 million per season.
The best way to deal with all that is to have the on-field leader in the mix for the entire offseason process but five months after Foles took over the closer duties for the second consecutive season due to a stress fracture in Wentz's back we're still discussing the now fourth-year quarterback's health because head coach Doug Pederson parried away from questions about Wentz's availability during rookie camp earlier this month.
In April, Wentz himself admitted that his back wasn't quite there.
Pederson did confirm that Wentz was doing some on-field work during Phase 2 of the offseason program, which amounts to some throwing and conditioning. Whether the QB1 at the helm on Tuesday during the first of 10 on-field OTA practices will either temper any concerns or amp them up.
The fact that Wentz is scheduled to speak to the media after practice on Tuesday is a good sign and one further confirmed by the NFL Network.
Either way Wentz is on track for the real prep work this summer and typically any veteran player who isn't completely healthy is going to be held up of an OTA practice.
That will certainly be in the case with a number of other key Eagles coming back from injuries. Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks (Achilles') and All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (foot) both suffered injuries that required surgery in the divisional round playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints and will not be doing anything in the spring as they continue their rehabs.
The secondary will also be limited as cornerbacks Ronald Darby and safety Rodney McLeod both are working their ways back from torn ACLs and CB Jalen Mills may also need more time after undergoing foot surgery. Up front on defense right end Derek Barnett is on his way back from shoulder surgery and iffy for spring work.
Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins, meanwhile, has been staying away from voluntary work and that could continue until mandatory minicamp in June.
The first on-field look at the major veteran offseason acquisitions will focus on the return of DeSean Jackson at receiver and the projected new lead back in Pederson's running back committee, former Chicago 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Howard from an offensive perspective. On defense, tackle Malik Jackson, linebackers Zach Brown and L.J. Fort and safety Andrew Sendejo were the key moves.
A small five-man draft class will also mix in with the veterans for the first time as Andre Dillard will start his internship behind Jason Peters at left tackle while RB Miles Sanders will want to prove he can hit the ground running behind Howard in the backfield. Things should start a little slower for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who has the luxury of sitting behind Alshon Jeffery at receiver.
Fourth-round defensive end Shareef Miller's development might need to be sped up a bit after the retirement of Chris Long while fifth-round QB Clayton Thorson will try to work his way up the depth chart as a developmental prospect behind Wentz and backup hopefuls Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen