Eagles vs. Titans: Working through the Wentz Plan
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Give Doug Pederson credit, he's trying to keep August interesting.
Whether or not Carson Wentz plays in Thursday's preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans isn't exactly a decision that will define Pederson's legacy as a coach but the Eagles' mentor sure seems to be taking his time to weigh things. ... Or perhaps Pederson just hasn't gotten around to it because whether or not the $108 million guaranteed to the franchise signal caller is placed "at-risk" for eight to 10 plays in a live environment isn't exactly "Sophie's choice."
Pederson claimed there was a personnel meeting later Tuesday to work out the logistics of the 90-man roster for Thursday's game but still refused to say anything on Wednesday morning when visiting with a Philadelphia-area radio station.
I mean the preseason is preparation for the regular season so maybe Pederson is working on his own competitive-advantage skills that were so sharply honed over the past two years of Wentz injuries, first the torn ACL/LCL and then the stress fracture in his back.
From Wentz's perspective, the workload will be either extremely light or nonexistent so caring seems to be difficult for the now fourth-year star.
“It’s his decision; I’ll be ready either way," Wentz said. “My preseasons have looked vastly different every year. So I don’t know if there’s a formula for it."
Wentz didn’t play in any of the Eagles’ preseason games last year as the Eagles went the cautious route when he was coming off the torn-up knee and he ultimately didn't play until the third game of the regular season.
“A little bit is helpful," Wentz surmised of preseason work, "but I don’t know if it's ever needed."
During his rookie year, Wentz suffered a hairline rib fracture in his first-ever preseason game and sat out the rest but made it through all 16 games that counted once Howie Roseman pilfered Minnesota in the Sam Bradford deal.
You have to rewind back to 2017 to find Wentz's only preseason with no injury context. He played in 13 snaps during the opener that year and 50 snaps in the entire summer, so maybe that's the template.
For what it's worth, Pederson offered both sides of the argument.
“Obviously, it’s been a while since he’s been on the field and we want to get him back to the feeling of being back on the grass again in a live situation," the coach claimed.
Conversely, the coach explained "the reason for holding him is to still evaluate Nate [Sudfeld] and the other quarterbacks.
"Those are the things we’re working through."
Sudfeld, being elevated to the backup spot with Nick Foles in Jacksonville, is sure to see the most time in the preseason, needed reps for a young QB the organization is high on but still needs some work when it comes to speeding up his processing.
"The goal would be to get [Sudfeld] as much time as we can under center in these four games, and I don’t want him to feel there’s any kind of pressure, but there is pressure to perform and just play," Pederson said. "He is very comfortable with the offense. … I want to see him just manage the team, manage the offense, execute the offense, get us in the end zone."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen