Carson Wentz Has ‘No Limitations’ as Eagles Begin On-Field OTAs
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The quarterback has no limitations and the QB of Jim Schwartz's secondary remains absent from voluntary work.
Carson Wentz's health and Malcolm Jenkins' decision to stay away from the NovaCare Complex were the headlines as the Eagles kicked off Phase 3 of their offseason work Tuesday.
Before the first of 10 on-field practice sessions coach Doug Pederson proclaimed his franchise signal caller healthy after a stress fracture in Wentz's back short-circuited his 2018 season.
"Carson has no limitations," Pederson declared. "I'm not going to hold him back."
As late as rookie camp earlier this month Pederson had failed to completely give the all clear on Wentz but changed on Tuesday morning, minutes before the Eagles were set to hit the practice field.
"Is it important? Yes. Is it training camp? No. Is it the regular season? No," Pederson said when discussing Wentz's need to be a part of spring work after failing to finish the last two seasons due to injury. "We're still building as a football team. We've got new players ... We're trying to get everyone on the same page. We've got Carson. This is the time to kind of get everybody on the same page. We're working through some things schematically ... I do think it's important that he's there working with the guys."
When it comes to Jenkins, however, Pederson took a different path.
"I'm not going to get into any personal conversations that we've had," Pederson said. "It is a voluntary program and Malcolm is one of those guys, a leader of the football team. I'm not concerned with him."
Jenkins' absence meant that all four of the Eagles' projected starters in the secondary are unable to practice because corners Ronald Darby (ACL) and Jalen Mills (foot) and safety Rodney McLeod (ACL) are still rehabbing from surgeries.
Sidney Jones for the first reps at left corner on Tuesday opposite Rasul Douglas while Tre Sullivan handled Jenkins' box safety role and Andrew Sendejo was filling in for McLeod in single-high looks.
Other notable veteran players absent were offensive tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson as well as receivers Alshon Jeffery while Pederson had already ruled out right guard Brandon Brooks (Achilles'), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (foot) and linebacker Nigel Bradham (thumb), who are all also recovering from surgery.
First-round pick Andre Dillard got the starting reps at LT opposite Jordan Mailata while interestingly Halapoulivaati Vaitai filled in for Brooks, not Stefen Wisniewski or Matt Pryor.
With Zach Brown also absent at LB the first-team options were Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry but free agent signee L.J. Fort also mixed in for Gerry and was the chief communicator while out there. Tim Jernigan filled in for Cox next to Malik Jackson.
Wentz looked sharp in practice, ditching his knee brace and showing off an arm that had far more giddy-up than all his backups, Nate Sudfeld, rookie Clayton Thorson and the recently-acquired Cody Kessler.
"Missing some of that time last year was a bummer," Wentz admitted after the session. "I wouldn’t say [offseason work is] the ‘end all, be all,’ but it definitely is helpful – especially this year with a couple new faces in there. I think you’ll see dividends come the fall.”
OTA PRACTICE NOTES:
-Nigel Bradham was working off to the side with a trainer.
-At running back Josh Adams did some individual work but did not participate in team work. Rookie Miles Sanders and Corey Clement observed practice but did not participate. After practice, Adams confirmed he's working his way back from shoulder surgery and expects to be 100 percent from training camp. Donnel Pumphrey, meanwhile, looked great because it's the spring and there are no pads.
-The starting OL from left to right was Andre Dillard, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and Jordan Mailata. The twos from left to right were Tyreek Burwell, Anthony Fabiano, Stefen Wisniewski, Matt Pryor, and Ryan Bates. The third team was Burwell, Sua Opeta, Keegan Render, Nate Herbig, and Johnny Gibson. Pryor got some work at RT as well while Wiz cross-trained at RG.
-The starting D-line was Brandon Graham at left end opposite Vinny Curry with Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan inside. Joe Ostman at LE and Josh Sweat at RE were the No. 2s with Treyvon Hester and Hassan Ridgeway inside. Ostman, by the way, moved up to Chris Long's locker stall.
-At LB Paul Worrilow started with L.J. Fort on the second team after going down with a torn ACL during the first OTA practice last year. Rookies T.J. Edwards and Joe Alfieri were the third-team LBs.
-Cre'Von LeBlanc was behind Avonte Maddox in the slot while Josh Hawkins and Jeremiah McKinnon got work on the outside. Interestingly Tre Sullivan got a few reps at slot CB while Maddox was outside.
-Blake Countess was playing a lot of single-high safety behind Andrew Sendejo.
-The play of the day may have been a one-handed stab by Dallas Goedert on a poorly thrown ball by rookie QB Clayton Thorson on one-on-one drills. Goedert also showed up during 7-on-7s high-pointing a deflection off Zach Ertz in which he went over Maddox to secure the football.
-Maddox and Sidney Jones were the best cover corners and the former ignited the defense with an interception during receiver vs. secondary drills, leaping to snare a Cody Kessler pass intended for Braxton Miller. The other impressive play for the corners came from Hawkins who undercut a Shelton Gibson route and nearly intercepted Nate Sudfeld.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen