Sixth-round pick Quez Watkins began his rookie season on Injured Reserve, but that wasn’t a good enough reason for him to not be paying attention.
At least it wasn’t a good enough reason for Carson Wentz.
Watkins said that earlier in the season, while he was still on IR and obviously not playing, Wentz would periodically ask him questions about the Eagles’ game plan to make sure the rookie was staying engaged. Wentz would give Watkins an occasional pop quiz.
Injuries happen and Wentz needed to make sure the rookie stayed ready.
“I do feel like that was the whole reason (he did that), like maybe, what if I came back and I had to be the man up? Would I know what I was doing?” Watkins said on Thursday afternoon. “That was really the thing he was trying to see. When I come back, can he have trust in me to make plays and know what I’m doing?”
Wentz, 27, is in his fifth year in the NFL. As a quarterback, he’s an obvious leader but he’s worked really hard on his leadership skills in recent seasons. Something like this, as simple as it is, shows off those leadership qualities. Some quarterbacks might only worry about the guys who are suiting up but Wentz took the time to make sure his backups were ready too.
That makes even more sense for this Eagles team, which has been decimated by injuries, especially at the receiver position.
Against the Steelers, the 21-year-old rookie made his NFL debut. Watkins played just five snaps and didn’t have an official target, but he did have a ball thrown his way and was able to draw a defensive pass interference call on Joe Haden in the third quarter.
Earlier this season, while Wentz was quizzing Quez, give credit to the rookie for doing what he was supposed to do too. Just like his quarterback wanted, Watkins was staying engaged.
Watkins said during practice when Wentz would come off the field or in the hallways of the NovaCare Complex, the two would chat. Wentz would check to make sure Watkins was being diligent and Watkins would ask his quarterback questions about things like preferences on routes.
“We’re really just picking each others’ brain as we go along,” Watkins said. “For me, when I come back, I already know what he wants and what he expects.”