Carson Wentz's surgeon on Eagles' decision: 'What's a few games over 12 to 15 years?'

Carson Wentz's surgeon on Eagles' decision: 'What's a few games over 12 to 15 years?'

Dr. James Bradley, the doctor who performed knee surgery on Carson Wentz eight months and three weeks ago, believes “common sense should take over the day” in deciding whether the Eagles' quarterback be cleared for contact and play in Thursday's season opener.

“It should be a cautious approach," Bradley said Friday in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "What’s a few games over 12 to 15 years?”

Bradley said Wentz's injury was “much more” than a torn ACL and the longer you wait, the lesser chance of a re-rupture. Bradley believes Wentz needs to be “tournament-tested tough,” having many repetitions of avoiding pass rushers so everything slows down again for him. He said the “ligaments, tendons and muscles need to learn to work again like a symphony.”

Head coach Doug Pederson said the team and its doctors would make an internal decision Friday on Wentz's status for the season opener. Wentz has participated in full-team drills over the past couple of weeks and has split first-team reps with Nick Foles.

Bradley said Wentz is “definitely ahead” of where he should be and has met every milestone. He said you couldn’t have asked for anything more from Wentz, calling the quarterback a humble warrior, great person and that Philly is lucky to have him.

In the beginning of the rehab process, Bradley said Wentz pushed the “pedal to the metal,” but then learned through working closely with Eagles trainer Joe O’Pella to hold back sometimes. He said the Eagles' organization has been fantastic throughout Wentz's entire recovery.

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How the heck did Sidney Jones make this crazy play?

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How the heck did Sidney Jones make this crazy play?

As I rewatched the Eagles’ 20-16 win over the Colts from Sunday, there was one play that I kept coming back to. 

It was a play from Sidney Jones late in the third quarter that I found to be pretty amazing. 

After he saw the tape, Jones thought so too. 

“Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s a crazy play,” Jones said. “But it’s a good play.”

Jones said that every once in a while, he’ll make a play that even surprises him when he goes back and watches the film. 

“Especially that one,” Jones said. “I’ve never done anything like that before. That was a good play for me.” 

At the snap, Jones gets chopped by Ryan Grant, but somehow doesn’t go to the ground. 

“I made (an) athletic play and caught myself,” Jones said, “and it was a like a leap-frog-looking type of play.”

From there, the 22-year-old nickel cornerback needed to go through offensive lineman Denzell Good, who outweighs him by 164 pounds. So Jones basically tried to tackle Good and Zac Pascal, who caught the receiver screen. 

Jones said he just tried to grab whatever he could. That meant his left arm went around Good and his right arm went around Pascal, which didn’t bring the runner to the ground, but did slow him up. 

It’s a shame that Jones didn’t even show up in the box score for this play. Jalen Mills came down and make the tackle on Pascal after a three-yard gain. Two plays later, the Colts settled for a field goal. 

If Jones doesn’t slow down this play and if he gets wiped out by that chop block, it leaves a 1-on-1 block for Pascal with a chance to go for a touchdown. It was a huge play from Jones and I’ll probably watch it another hundred times or so.

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Wendell Smallwood's health gains him opportunity

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Wendell Smallwood's health gains him opportunity

The issue with Wendell Smallwood has never been effort or ability. It’s been availability and, as a result, opportunity — meaning a lack of it.

While Smallwood’s performance during the Eagles’ 20-16 win over the Colts was a pleasant surprise to many observers, the running back’s production was in line with previous games in which he was a focal point of the offense.

Prior to Sunday, Smallwood was averaging 3.9 yards per rushing attempt with two touchdowns. Yet, in games where the third-year veteran carried the ball at least 10 times, he's had a 4.3 average and found the end zone twice. The Eagles also had a 4-1 record in those contests.

Against the Colts, Smallwood carried 10 times for 56 yards – a 5.6 average – and scored his third career rushing touchdown. The Eagles also improved to 5-1 in games he carried at least 10 times.

Despite concerns over Smallwood’s size as a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, the 5-foot-10, 208-pound back runs hard and doesn’t shy away from tacklers. He prides himself on getting the offensive line fired up, and suggested the Eagles were able to wear down the Colts’ front.

That style of back also needs volume sometimes to maximize their impact on a defense, which might explain why Smallwood has looked better with larger workloads.

Of course, with physicality comes contact, and with contact comes injuries, which have been the story of Smallwood’s career. He was limited by a knee injury in 2017, then lost his spot in the rotation after the Eagles traded for Jay Ajayi.

“It was difficult knowing what I can do and how I can help this team,” said Smallwood postgame. “It kind of fueled me coming into this year.

“I’ll never take a down or a play or anything for granted knowing how I had to sit last year or I got hurt and couldn’t really get back into the lineup. It makes me take advantage of every opportunity I get. I don’t ever want to put myself in that situation again.”

Smallwood isn’t suddenly going to find himself as the feature back here, with Ajayi, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement all ahead on the depth chart. However, he’s a reliable fourth option for the Eagles, at the very least.

“Wendell has always impressed me,” said Eagles coach Doug Pederson. “He's worked extremely hard. He's really improved his craft and put himself in a position to help us.

“Got to have guys like that. Might be role players, but you know what, their role is pretty big in games like this when your two top guys are down in the backfield.”

Watching Smallwood run the way he did Sunday – plus catch three passes for 35 yards – you can’t help but wonder, as some did in ’16 and ‘17, how much more he could do should the opportunity ever arise.

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