McMullen: Managing Carson Wentz is Getting Trickier for Doug Pederson
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Carson Wentz is ailing and at least some of that isn't physical.
Friday was an atypically warm December day in South Philadelphia and the Eagles were in their practice bubble thanks to consecutive days of heavy rain when Wentz took the field in his jersey and shorts as a spectator watching Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld do the heavy lifting that he's accustomed to.
There are certainly whispers that Wentz wants to play through the "stress injury" in his back that will keep him out of a second consecutive game on Sunday against the Houston Texans and those rumors aren't going away until Wentz himself decides to brief the media on what exactly is going on, something the third-year quarterback has declined to do to this point.
The head coach was asked the question, however, and Doud Pederson's answer spoke volumes after first repeating the query in a rhetorical attempt to gather his thoughts on a tricky subject.
"Does he want to play through it? I would say this, and I'm not speaking for Carson. I don't want to put words in his mouth. I think as an athlete who has an injury this time of year, if it's not going to set them back, then, yeah, I would say everybody wants to play through injury," Pederson explained. "You see it around the league, not just with Carson or an [CB] Avonte Maddox, now a [LB] Jordan Hicks. I think these guys have enough pride and want-to to try. Again, we have to make sure they're 100% -- that's kind of been our philosophy around here -- before we stick them back out here."
In other words -- hell yeah, Carson wants to play, something which essentially means he's been shut down by the medical people with an injury Pederson has said would take up to three months to fully heal.
"Listen I kind of go back to the beginning of the year. We're going to trust the medical staff," the coach said. "It's one of those deals. You have to make sure that there won't be any setbacks if we put him back out there."
A source close to Wentz told 973epsn.com earlier this year that the signal caller wanted to play in the season opener and it was the team who held him back until Week 3 out of an abundance of caution while waiting for a full nine months to pass post Wentz's ACL and LCL surgery last year, which took place on Dec. 13.
When it comes to the face of the franchise, there are simply more cooks in the kitchen making decisions than with the average injury say to Hicks or Maddox.
For instance with a star quarterback, even the owner wants to throw his two cents into the mix and when it comes to Jeffrey Lurie, the questions to his medical staff can be difficult but ultimately the Eagles' CEO defers to them.
And all of this kind of stuff can be a difficult landscape to traverse with a Type-A personality like Wentz made even trickier when the backup is successful and the outside noise starts to build.
"As long as we communicate and we're upfront and honest with [Wentz] and have tough conversations, which we've had - not just me and him but I think with the doctors and the medical staff and he understands, I think we're okay," Pederson said.
From the coach's perspective, however, it's doesn't stop at the doctors or the medical report, Pederson has also got to manage the personality of his most important asset and that is perhaps the most difficult part of the entire equation.
"I think we just continue to reconfirm that with Carson and let him know that. Continue to say, 'Hey, listen you're going to be here for a long time, have a long career,'" Pederson insisted. "We just have to commit to that and communicate that to him and let that kind of sink in."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen