Eagles-Ravens: Thorson Tries to Finish Strong
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — At Monday's joint practice against the Baltimore Ravens, rookie Clayton Thorson actually threw more touchdown passes than Carson Wentz.
There's a lot of context to that, of course, starting with the fact that the Eagles' QB1 was throwing against arguably the most talented secondary in the NFL, featuring one of the better ballhawks who has ever lived in Earl Thomas, along with emerging lockdown corner Marlon Humphrey. Thorson, meanwhile, was chucking it against guys who may be playing for the D.C. Defenders in the XFL next year.
What can be said, however, is that Thorson has turned a corner from overmatched rookie to somewhat legitimate developmental prospect since being thrown into the deep end of the pool after Cody Kessler's concussion in Jacksonville last Thursday.
Against the Ravens' defensive reserves Thorson found fellow rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and then Marken Michel on consecutive throws in red-zone work, beating Cyrus Jones and Terrell Bonds in coverage.
Being forced into action against the Jaguars without having to think about the task at hand too long seemed to help Thorson, who has started to trust what he sees resulting in more confident throws.
"I think any game experience you get makes you more confident," Thorson acknowledged after practice on Monday. "Every week I’m getting more and more confident and the [Jacksonville] game helped out."
The landscape has changed a bit for Thorson, though, because of injuries to presumed backup Nate Sudfeld and Kessler. The conventional wisdom was that the Northwestern product would be the developmental prospect behind Carson Wentz and Sudfled but the addition of 18-year veteran Josh McCown means a roster spot may not be there unless the Eagles decide to place Sudfeld on injured reserve with a broken wrist.
A week ago no one would have blinked an eye over waiving Thorson because of the way he was performing both in practice and the preseason opener against Tennessee where he amassed a dismal 0.0 passer rating.
“It’s my first training camp," Thorson explained. "I'm learning so much about being in the NFL, going against NFL defenses and just knowing what I’ve got to work on. That’s the biggest thing. Just getting more comfortable. Getting out and trusting yourself and just ripping [the football].”
On Monday it wasn't against Thomas and Humphrey but it was against the same scheme and coaching staff which has been regarded as one of the NFL's best for years.
“It’s fun to come out here and play someone new," Thorson said. "It’s a lot of fun to play against these guys, such a good defense like this. You just have to see it and really trust your reads and make efficient decisions."
For now, that's all Thorson can do while adopting the cliched traditional football mindset -- control what you can control.
“Coach [Doug Pederson] talks about it a lot, just stacking days,” he said. “That’s what you’ve got to do and just get better and better and better. That’s the only thing you can control. You can’t control anything else.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen