Eagles

Carson Wentz levels up, places himself in elite QB tier after statement win

Carson Wentz levels up, places himself in elite QB tier after statement win

CHARLOTTE — This one meant more to Carson Wentz. Because of how many challenges he overcame. And how many challenges the Eagles overcame.
 
Wentz led the Eagles to their fourth straight win Thursday night, and nothing came easy for him in the 28-23 win over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium (see observations).
 
Wentz got hit. Wentz got sacked. There were drops. There were penalties. There was a short week, a deafening hostile crowd, and, yes, there were officials who did not seem very interested in seeing the Eagles win (see story)

You name it, the Eagles were up against it. You name it, Wentz overcame it.
 
"It feels good, and I think it says a lot about the guys in this locker room. We stayed together the whole game," he said. "They did some good things defensively, some different pressure looks that we haven't seen.

"That's tough on a short week, but we found a way to win a close ballgame, and that's ultimately what we struggled with last year, winning on the road and winning close ballgames. We've done that successfully these first six games."
 
Wentz got battered early, got his sea legs in the second half and finished strong. 
 
He completed only 16 of 30 passes — just 53 percent — but threw three touchdowns and had no interceptions, and made big throw after big throw in the second half as the Eagles warded off every Panthers' comeback bid. 

The Eagles scored on three of their first four second-half drives, including a third-quarter TD drive in which Wentz was 5 for 5 for 90 yards and overcame a 2nd-and-25 and a 3rd-and-16.

"That was huge," Wentz said. "That was a huge drive. You never want to be in 3rd-and-16 and Carolina ... made it tough on us, but we found a way to convert that one and then had the big play shortly thereafter (37 yards to Alshon Jeffery) and just kept our foot on the gas and found a way to get in the endzone there."

That TD gave the Eagles a 12-point lead, and Wentz capped it with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor.
 
"That's the one thing about this kid — he's so tough mentally and physically," Pederson said. "He just stays in there and battles and still, his eyes are down the field. He doesn't let (getting hit) get to him. 

"He's a great leader of this football team even in his second year. Guys really respect the way he plays. It's exciting to see from your quarterback."
 
Wentz just keeps getting better, and it's easy to forget that he's only 22 games into his NFL career.
 
"He is a big quarterback, and he is fearless," Panthers cornerback James Bradberry said. "I saw him take on one of our linebackers and a safety down there by the goal line. You could tell he was trying to will his team to win."
 
These last two weeks, Wentz has thrown seven touchdowns and one interception. He threw 16 TDs all last year.
 
He's fashioned a passer rating of 90 or higher in four straight games — only two shy of the franchise record — and his 99.6 passer rating is eighth-highest in the league.
 
Wentz has a game in hand but is now tied with Aaron Rodgers with an NFL-best 13 touchdown passes. He had 16 all last year.
 
The last two weeks, Wentz has blossomed. He's got seven TDs, one interception, 526 passing yards and passer ratings of 128.3 and 110.7.
 
The Eagles are 5-1, winners of four straight, and their 24-year-old quarterback is a legitimate MVP candidate.
 
Wentz has won games before, but this felt different. This felt like a young player genuinely elevating himself into the pantheon of elite NFL QBs.
 
"You saw glimpses of it when he was in college, obviously, with the championships and the success that he had," Pederson said. "You just look at his whole sports life and the success he's had — you just never know though until you get them in your building and you start coaching them to see exactly what you've got.
 
"That goes with any player, but the quarterback position is so important in this league and that's one position that you've got to get right and he's the right player for the Philadephia Eagles."
 
With his win Thursday night, Wentz improved to 12-10 in his career (and 7-1 in his last eight starts). One more win ties Donovan McNabb for most wins by an Eagles quarterback in his first two years in the league. 
 
With 10 games to go.
 
McNabb is the greatest quarterback in Eagles' history, but after the Eagles beat the Cards at the Linc five days ago, he said he won't have any team records left in a decade.
 
"He's going to break all of them," McNabb said.
 
Wentz and his teammates aren't due back to the NovaCare Complex until Tuesday, so they have a few days to actually enjoy this one before starting preparations for the Redskins.
 
"It feels great," Wentz said. "That was a hard-fought win. On the road, on a short week, on primetime TV. So to come out of it 5-1 and to know that we're at home the next couple of weeks, that's big for us."

Eagles' Dannell Ellerbe, Will Beatty playing catch-up with new team

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Eagles' Dannell Ellerbe, Will Beatty playing catch-up with new team

After signing with the Eagles about a week and a half ago, Will Beatty has been working hard to catch up. 

He's learning a new offense, new terminology, new teammates. 

And a new building. 

"I'm still trying to figure out where everything is here," Beatty said. "A lot of the doors here are not labeled, so it's like 'where does this door lead?'"

Eventually, the 32-year-old offensive tackle finds where he's going. For the most part, he just tries to follow his teammates. When he's the only player around, he begins to worry and checks the schedule to make sure he's not missing something. 

Beatty isn't alone. He was brought in last week a day after the Eagles signed veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Both players are veterans over 30. Both players have won a Super Bowl. And both are playing catch-up. 

How has it been going? 

"Really good," head coach Doug Pederson said. "In both cases, picking up the offense with Will and the defense with Dannell. Dannell has probably gotten a couple of reps with our defense in the past couple of weeks. Both of them are doing really, really well."

While Ellerbe has gotten some practice reps, don't expect him to have a role with the defense just yet. Pederson on Friday morning said Ellerbe's role is still to get comfortable with the defense. 

While Jim Schwartz said Ellerbe was going to learn all three linebacker positions, Ellerbe has been focusing more on MIKE and SAM. The former Saint said he likes to learn the entire concept of the defense. The biggest hurdle is learning the new terminology. 

"I've been sitting out since OTAs, so it's been a while," Ellerbe said. "It's like riding a bike. Just repetition."

Both players were inactive against the Cowboys, less than a week after their arrivals. It is yet to be seen if either will have roles down the stretch. 

When Beatty eventually finds his way to the practice field, he has been working with the Eagles' second-team offense, which means he's going against the Eagles' first-team defense every day. That's a good way to shake off some rust. 

For now, second-year player Joe Walker has been playing the MIKE position in the Eagles' base defense. If Ellerbe were to ever get on the field, it would likely be in that spot. But Walker has been playing OK since Jordan Hicks went down. 

During meetings, Beatty pretty much stays quiet when he has questions. He writes down what he doesn't understand and then brings it to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland afterward so he doesn't slow down the entire group. It's basically like seeing a teacher after class for extra help. 

One of the tough parts about joining a team in the middle of the season is everyone is already settled into a routine. Beatty and Ellerbe are working just to catch up. 

"It's a little different, but would much rather be doing this than anything else," Beatty said. "This is a great organization. Everyone welcomed me with open arms."

Eagles Injury Update: Jake Elliott (concussion) cleared to play vs. Bears

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Eagles Injury Update: Jake Elliott (concussion) cleared to play vs. Bears

After a week of worrying, everyone can finally relax. 

Jake Elliott is going to play on Sunday. 

The Eagles' kicker officially cleared the NFL's concussion protocol on Friday morning, when he was cleared by an independent neurologist. Throughout the week it looked likely that Elliott would be able to play, but it didn't become official until Friday. 

Elliott suffered a concussion against the Cowboys during the first half of Sunday's game at AT&T Stadium. The Eagles needed to finish the game going for two-point conversions and with linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill kicking off. 

Beau Allen (knee) and Trey Burton (back) will both be game-time decisions, according to head coach Doug Pederson. 

Burton's back spasms came from the game on Sunday and he has been dealing with the issue all week. He missed practice on Thursday. If Burton can't play, the Eagles would go into Sunday's game with two tight ends — Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. If Burton is inactive, Celek will likely have an increased role, Pederson said. 

If Allen can't play, it's likely rookie Elijah Qualls will be active for the first time since the Arizona game. Qualls has played just eight defensive snaps all season.