Wentz Stays Grounded with Seahawks Approaching
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — From one MVP to another?
LeBron James is used to hardware, be it NBA championship trophies or MVP awards and one of the greatest all-around players in the history of professional basketball has taken note of another special athlete, Eagles' quarterback Carson Wentz.
A month shy of his 25th birthday and in just his second NFL season, Wentz is at the top of the leaderboard, along with New England's Tom Brady, when it comes to the 2017 MVP race and James admitted the young quarterback has become his favorite NFL player when in town to face the 76ers on Monday.
"My favorite player right now is Carson Wentz," James said. "I told my brother that early in the season that I just love the way he plays the game. The way that he's able to get to progressions throughout the course of a three-step drop or a five-step drop, and if everything breaks down, his ability to run, get outside the pocket, either make passes or get yards with his feet.
"He's a very smart player from the outside looking in, obviously, and they've got a really good team. I'm a Cowboys fan, I'm a Browns fan, but I'm a fan of sports and I know sports."
And maybe MVPs know other MVPs considering that Mike Trout, the Angels' star outfielder and Millville native, is also a card-carrying member of the Wentz fan club.
"It’s pretty cool," Wentz said Wednesday when asked about James' comments. "I've got a ton of respect for a guy like LeBron."
Wentz, though, remains almost amazingly grounded when it comes to off-message things and individual accolades fit into that category.
"I’m not really focused on that stuff," he claimed when asked about his MVP candidacy. "I’m focused on Seattle this week and the road stretch that we have ahead of us."
Although the "Legion of Boom" has turned into the "Legion of Gloom" without All-Pros Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks' defense remains a difficult one to deal due to the presence of Hall of Fame-level safety Earl Thomas as well as a pair of the most athletic linebackers in the league, Defensive Player of the Year hopeful Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.
"The thing about their scheme is it kind of cuts your playbook in half," Wentz admitted, "... They lock in on route concepts, those types of things and just play really fast. ... it's impressive. You can tell they are coached very well."
-Mike linebacker Joe Walker missed practice after suffering a neck stinger against Chicago while receiver Alshon Jeffery (foot), center Jason Kelce (ankle) and slot cornerback Patrick Robinson (knee) were all limited.
-The Eagles can clinch the NFC East as early as Thursday night if the Cowboys lose to the Redskins but coach Doug Pederson doesn't plan on making much of what is the first of loftier goals.
"Obviously it's one of our goals to win the NFC East, but the bigger message is you're still playing and fighting for home field," the coach said. "You're fighting for that first-round bye if possible. I mean, there's a lot of things that you're still playing for, even though you've checked the box for your first goal. It's great, love it, but the Eagles have also won a bunch of NFC East titles here, too. We're proud of it. It's a tribute obviously to the players, but there's something bigger out there that we strive for."
-Pederson also said there is nothing new on cornerback Sidney Jones, the Eagles' talented second-round pick who continues to rehab from an Achilles' injury suffered back in March.
"He's obviously still doing well with his rehab," Pederson said. "He's getting better there, and again, don't want to rush him back just yet."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen