Just 5½ months after he tore up his knee in Los Angeles, Carson Wentz participated in Eagles practice Tuesday morning, firing passes to ballboys and assistant coaches in the first set of drills at the start of spring OTAs.
It looked like he hadn’t missed a day.
Wentz, wearing a brace on his injured left knee, participated only in individual drills and sat out the rest of practice.
But he looked comfortable and confident taking his drops, he delivered the football with his familiar zip and if it weren't for the brace you wouldn't have known he was coming back from a devastating injury.
It was a huge step for the 25-year-old quarterback, who was having an All-Pro 2017 season before he got hurt.
Does this mean he’ll be ready for opening day in 3½ months?
Still too early to tell. But just seeing him out on the practice field wearing a red No. 11 jersey and throwing the football around sure was encouraging.
“Mental aspect is probably just as important as the physical, I think, when you’re coming back from these injuries,” Wentz said before practice.
“I’m just learning how to trust it. Trust your knee, trust your movement, all of those things. And that comes over time, and every day it just gets a little better. A little more trust, a little more faith in it.
“At the same time, you’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to be smart with what the doctors are saying. But I feel like I’ve made really good strides mentally and physcally and I like where I’m at.”
The Eagles will open training camp in late July, so that’s about two months away. The first preseason game is Aug. 9, which is about 2½ months away. The regular-season opener is Sept. 6 against the Falcons at the Linc.
Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will take all the first-team reps this summer and then step aside whenever Wentz is ready (see observations).
Wentz said he’s tempted to play the calendar game — will he be ready in time for the Falcons? But he said for the most part he resists.
“You do sometimes, but at the end of the day you can’t get caught up in that,” he said.
“Even when you’re healthy — ‘OK, Week 1, you’ve got that circled,’ or whatever. It’s always just a one-day-at-a-time mentality and approach and especially now I’ve got to avoid getting ahead of myself.”
Wentz threw 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in 13 games last year, going 11-2 before giving way to Foles, who led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title.
Wentz admits he’s antsy to get back to football but said he has to avoid the temptation to do too much too soon.
“Any time you’re rehabbing from any sort of injury, you’ve got to be careful,” he said.
“There’s days you feel great and want to push it more and there’s days it’s a little sore, it’s a little tired, whatever, but it’s just part of the process of coming back from an injury.
“You’ve just gotta trust what the trainers are saying, what the doctors are saying, and keep being smart with it.”
Wentz is the leader of a large group of Eagles that finished last year on injured reserve and were forced to watch Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis from the sidelines.
Jason Peters. Darren Sproles. Jordan Hicks. Chris Maragos.
Wentz said that group’s hunger is going to help drive the entire team in 2018.
“With injured guys, guys that didn’t get a chance to play in that game, there’s an extra sense of motivation, an extra sense of not letting everybody be complacent,” Wentz said.
“On the flip side of that, I know the leaders that we have. I know the guys in that locker room, the character of that locker room, and I don’t expect it to be an issue regardless. I think any time we have the veteran leadership that we have, that’s not really a concern of mine or really the rest of the guys because nobody’s going to ever settle for anything around here.
“But I don’t think it hurts that we have the other guys like myself with a little chip on their shoulder, a little extra motivation to get back out there.”