What to expect from Carson Wentz today in his return from torn ACL, LCL

What to expect from Carson Wentz today in his return from torn ACL, LCL

Carson Wentz will take the field today for the first time since Dec. 10, 2017, which means 288 days between starts.

It’s fair to wonder how good he will be against the Colts. After all, he was playing at an MVP level last season, but he hasn’t played in a long while and will be without some offensive weapons.

We’ll find out today, but Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their expectations for Wentz's 2018 debut: 

Roob

Two years ago, after sitting out a month of the preseason with a broken rib, Carson Wentz got a promotion from third string to starter eight days before the season began and went out with a bunch of receivers he barely practiced with and began his career with a 278-yard, two-touchdown, zero-interception masterpiece against the Browns. If Wentz can play like that as a rookie without a training camp, there is no reason to think he can’t go right out there today and light it up against the Colts as a third-year pro who had a training camp.

It’s not like Wentz has been hurt. He’s been rehabbing, but he didn’t miss a practice all summer. He just didn’t play. And I just don’t think an MVP type of guy like Wentz is going to be affected by not playing in a few preseason games. Conventional wisdom says this will take a while, but I’m not buying it.

I expect him to be comfortable, productive, explosive. The same Wentz we’re used to. Throwing the ball up and down the field, extending plays with his legs, making the guys around him better. I expect one thing from Wentz today. I expect he’ll be Wentz.

Dave

I expect Carson will be Carson too. It’s just that I think it’s going to take some time. Sure, Wentz has been practicing all summer, but he hasn’t played a football game since December. There’s going to be some rust. I think that’s just unavoidable. And the fact that both the receiver and running back positions are depleted won’t help.

I also don’t expect Wentz to be running around like a madman like he did at times during the 2017 season. I think he’ll be able to use his legs enough in the pocket, but I expect him to stay in the pocket more than he did at times in 2017. That can actually be a good thing. It’ll keep him healthy and keep his focus on getting the ball downfield.

The one aspect of Wentz’s maturation and rehab that I don’t think has been talked about enough is how much time he spent watching film over the last nine months. The time watching film and getting a new perspective is only going to help Wentz. Think about how much better me might be at the line of scrimmage; and he was already really good in that area. Obviously, no one wanted to see him get hurt, but I think he’ll come back an even better player. It might take a little bit of time to see it today, but I think by the end, everyone’s confidence in the MVP quarterback will be back.

More on the Eagles

Eagles Stay or Go — Young receiver; Chance Warmack

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Eagles Stay or Go — Young receiver; Chance Warmack

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles. All of our previous Stay or Go posts can be found here.

Greg Ward
Roob:
Ward is the former Houston quarterback who the Eagles converted into a wide receiver and kept around on the practice squad all year. Ward is a tremendous athlete with decent size and tremendous speed, and the Eagles looked at him all along as a long-term project, so don't be surprised if they keep him around on the practice squad for another year as an investment. Ward is still only 22 and did enough in training camp to make you think at some point in a year or two he could be a functional NFL wide receiver.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The undrafted receiver out of the University of Houston had a good training camp and then spent the 2017 season on the Eagles' practice squad. The former quarterback is still learning the position, but definitely made an impression on the team. Many thought he deserved a roster spot coming into the season. He'll have another shot at a spot this year, but the odds are probably against him. 

Verdict: GOES

Chance Warmack
Roob:
In a season in which Doug Pederson and his staff did very, very few things wrong, they did misjudge Warmack, who was terrible in training camp and predictably couldn't hang onto the left guard spot after Isaac Seumalo did little to impress the coaches. Warmack ultimately gave way to third choice Stefen Wisniewski, who was very good. As for Warmack, he's only 26 and has 51 career starts under his belt, so somebody is going to give him a shot. It won't be the Eagles.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Some folks probably think Warmack was a disappointment in 2017 because the Eagles gave him an opportunity to take over as their starting left guard and he couldn't beat out Wisniewski. That's partially true, but Warmack did play well at other times and was the Eagles' best backup interior lineman this season. He got a modest contract extension and is a decent depth piece. 

Verdict: STAYS

Eagles Stay or Go — Has Jaylen Watkins worn out welcome?

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USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — Has Jaylen Watkins worn out welcome?

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles. All of our previous Stay or Go posts can be found here.

Jaylen Watkins
Roob:
Watkins didn't play as much in 2017 as he did in 2016, but he was a serviceable reserve safety who can also play cornerback or slot if needed. His snap counts decreased dramatically — from 388 to 168 — but Watkins was a core special teamer, and Jim Schwartz really seems to like his versatility. Little is set behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, so I'm guessing the former fourth-round pick out of Florida sticks for another year.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Watkins is a restricted free agent this offseason so it'll really be up to the Eagles if they want him back. They aren't going to tender him, so he'll become unrestricted on March 14. They weren't going to pay him what that contract would cost. But that doesn't mean he's necessarily gone. It's not like there will be a lot of teams busting down doors to get to him. While Watkins isn't a starter, he played some good snaps for the Eagles in 2017 and was a backup at every position on defense. When the Eagles needed a cornerback instead of a safety, Watkins moved there in the summer. He should be cheap enough to keep. 

Verdict: STAYS

Carson Wentz 
Roob:
I remember that guy! Wentz enters his third season, and thanks to Nick Foles' heroics, it's easy to forget that before he got hurt Wentz went 11-2 with 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions and 254 passing yards per game. His 101.9 passer rating was third highest in NFL history by a QB in his first or second year (minimum 400 attempts), and his 33 TDs set a franchise record. If Wentz can stay healthy, he's going to be an absolute superstar in this league.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: The biggest story of the offseason is Wentz's rehab. Will he be ready for Week 1? Obviously, the Eagles have a pretty good backup plan in Super Bowl MVP Foles, but Wentz is still the guy in Philly. He was likely on his way to an NFL MVP award before tearing his ACL and LCL on Dec. 10 in Los Angeles. He has two more years left on his rookie deal and then a fifth-year option before the Eagles might have to pay him well over $30 million per season. 

Verdict: STAYS

Stefen Wisniewski
Roob: 
Wisniewski was a beast once he got settled in at left guard. Why did it take a month for that to happen? Just chalk it up to the Eagles really wanting to make things work with Isaac Seumalo, a third-round draft pick, and Chance Warmack, a Jeff Stoutland favorite. What happens next? Wiz deserves the left guard spot, but he has a fairly significant $2.958 million cap hit in 2018, so it's no lock the Eagles bring him back. But I think they will.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It seemed like the Eagles gave everyone a chance to start at left guard before Wiz. First there was Allen Barbre, then Seumalo, then Warmack. Finally, Wisniewski got into the lineup and never left. The Eagles' dominant offensive line didn't really take form until it solidified the left guard spot and that didn't happen until Wiz got in there. Even if he was just a backup, he'd be worth keeping. But now, Wiz is a starter on one of the best units the Eagles have. 

Verdict: STAYS