Eagles Locker Room On Board with the Move to Wentz
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The timing was unprecedented and the Eagles clearly made the move to start the Carson Wentz era earlier than expected because they felt Sam Bradford’s value would never be greater.
From a logical standpoint, that’s unquestionably true but there is also an emotional impact when you move on from a veteran starting quarterback eight days before the season opener.
Yet, despite the fact that the move was toward a rookie with exactly one preseason game under his belt, had never taken one snap with the first-team offense before Monday and was recently cleared from two fractured ribs, Eagles coach Doug Pederson claims his locker room is on board with the decision.
“The guys were 100 percent behind it and thrilled that Carson’s going to be the guy,” Pederson said. “They’ve seen him day in and day out like we’ve seen him and they know he can be a special player in this league and they’ve embraced it and supported him 100 percent.”
Wentz has worked with Jason Kelce on the center-quarterback exchange and thrown to the top targets on this team like Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz, but the scaled-back 10-10-10 practice earlier in the day was the first time the rookie worked with all the starters as one group, a unit which currently includes right tackle Lane Johnson, who looks like he will be able to play against Cleveland as his pending PED suspension remains in limbo.
A number of veterans spoke about the surprising move from Bradford to Wentz in the locker room after practice.
“It was an initial shock but at the same time, I know it’s the nature of this business,” receiver Josh Huff said. “With Sam not being here and Carson being the future, it’s exciting to be able to grow and gel with him.”
Kelce claimed his first reaction was also shock but that was quickly replaced by his confidence in Wentz.
“I think Carson, when he’s been in there has done a great job,” the Pro Bowl center said. “He’s a very smart guy and obviously has tremendous talent, We are losing a really, solid veteran player. Obviously, we drafted Carson for a reason, he’s got all the tools and we are ready to go.”
Tight end Brent Celek, the elder statesman of the offense believes making the change “won’t be too much of a difference.”
“We have worked with Carson throughout some of the offseason and through training camp so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Celek said.
As for Wentz himself, he was lying in a South Jersey cornfield hunting geese when he got the call informing him that he would be the starter of the Eagles immediately and true to his unflappable nature, the rookie, who was supposed to be in bubble wrap, handled things like a 10-year vet.
“I’m really confident in myself, I’m confident in my team and I’m excited for (the opportunity),” Wentz said.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen