From Projection to Practice Squad for Carson Wentz
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - With the Eagles on the verge of earning a third consecutive postseason berth, it's startling to see what projection turned into for Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz, and the Philadelphia offense.
The coach and the QB were expected to enjoy the labors of top-tier veteran playmakers like Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Jordan Howard and Darren Sproles with a little from rookies Miles Sanders and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside mixed in.
Come Sunday's play-in game against the New York Giants up the Jersey Turnpike Jeffery, Jackson, Agholor and Sproles are all out of the lineup while Ertz is unlikely to play and Howard will be making a scaled-back return as a complement to Sanders and Boston Scott after missing six games with a shoulder/stinger injury.
Sanders, meanwhile, is the identity of the offense, Goedert is expected to bump up to TE1 and the return of tight end Richard Rodgers and elevation of practice-squad receiver Deontay Burnett are the latest moves to bolster the receiving options for Wentz.
NFL practice squads are limited to 10 players and the Eagles have elevated 12 if you count going outside the organization for defensive tackle Anthony Rush [Oakland] and Albert Higgins [Houston].
Inside the organization, it started with Alex Ellis and moved onto Craig James, Ryan Lewis, Scott, Alex Singleton, Greg Ward, Josh Perkins, Sua Opeta and Rob Davis before getting to Burnett. Of those -- Ellis, Scott, Greg Ward, Perkins, Davis, and Burnett -- were added to fortify all those issues on offense.
Ward and Scott, particularly have been very helpful with the former snaring 22 receptions for 221 yards and a touchdown in five games and the latter accounting for 212 scrimmage yards during the current three-game winning streak that has the Eagles on the precipice of the postseason.
Wentz has embraced all of the new bodies he's gotten in recent weeks.
“I would say leadership comes out different ways in those tough games and in situations like that,” Wentz said when discussing all the issues the offense has gone through. “Just trying to make sure everyone is on the same page going forward, moving forward, especially when we have a lot of young guys who are kind of new, new faces, jumping in here and there."
For Wentz, it's been about embracing and encouragement not handing out orders.
“You get here for a reason," Wentz said of his new toys. "When we add new guys in, I want to learn what do they do best, how do they run a route and what do they do that’s most effective, so I can understand how they’re going to get open. I don’t want to tell them how to get open. That’s their job. That’s what they’re paid for. Having those conversations and working through it, whether it’s after practice or watching film I think those conversations go a long way.”
A long way that is on the verge of producing another home playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field.
“The last two years I’ve been out at this point,” Wentz said. “To feel the way I do, to be out here with the guys Week 17, it’s a blessing, something I don’t take for granted. I’m excited to hopefully go get one more.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen