Don't overreact to the latest Carson Wentz update

Don't overreact to the latest Carson Wentz update

It’s not a setback. As Doug Pederson explains, it’s the opposite.

It’s been a mysterious week for rehabbing Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who participated in full-team practices three consecutive days last week — Thursday, Friday and Saturday — but has sat out all the full-team drills since — Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday was an off day.

It looked like a setback. And Pederson hadn’t spoken with the media since Sunday and Wentz hadn’t spoken since last Thursday, so it was impossible to tell exactly what was happening with Wentz.

Was he experiencing swelling?

Was the workload too much for him?

Was his hope to be ready by opening day in jeopardy?

After practice Wednesday, Wentz and Pederson both insisted there was no setback, that this is all part of the plan to get Wentz back on the field as early as possible. 

“I’m very encouraged obviously where he’s at and what I saw last week is enough to ease my mind,” Pederson said. “I don’t need to see him in 11-on-11.” 

Wentz, who tore two knee ligaments in December, hasn’t missed a practice since camp started last Thursday and has been participating in all drills other than 11-on-11. 

But seeing him do full-team work for three straight days and then sit those same drills the next three days was definitely eye-opening. 

“For sure, it’s tough,” Wentz said. “It’s been tough ever since I got hurt to watch practice and not be out there.”

Wentz hasn’t been cleared for contact, and even though the quarterback doesn’t get hit during live drills, he is potentially at risk as bodies fly around during live tackling periods.

“My understanding is that the coaches and trainers and everybody want me to stay in a controlled environment right now with everything, so that’s what we’re doing," Wentz said.

“It’s just part of the plan. Haven’t been cleared for contact and I know that’s part of the reason."

Wentz, an MVP candidate a year ago, is generally off on a side field doing conditioning work or throwing while Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles leads the first-team offense in team work.

“Obviously, as a competitor, you want to be out there,” Wentz said. “I got my feet wet and got out there and ran around and it felt great, but you’ve got to listen to what the doctors and coaches are saying and just trust the plan. …

“I want to be out there. I want to be out there today, I want to be out there Week 1, I want to be out there last year. But there’s certain limitations what you can do and I just have to trust what they say.”

Wentz said he hasn’t experienced any swelling, and he said that although some days he feels better than others, he hasn’t thought about the knee once during practice.

“I feel great, I feel great," he said. "Everyone always talks about the mental side and just getting over the mental block and those hurdles. I feel like I’ve gone through that and progressed through that. Now it’s just getting cleared and sticking with the plan.”

Pederson declined to comment when Wentz would return to full team activity.

He said all decisions on Wentz’s daily practice routine are determined by the coaches, the trainers, the doctors and Wentz himself.

“He’s progressing extremely well,” Pederson said. “I don’t want to subject him to any kind of setback or anything like that. I want to keep him progressing or moving forward. Those couple days that he had were very exciting days.”

There are now 36 days until opening day.

Who will quarterback the defending Super Bowl champs against the Falcons?

“I feel good and encouraged where I’m at,” Wentz said. “I’m sticking to my goal.”

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Eagles mailbag: Derek Barnett's potential breakout, Carson Wentz's durability and contract concerns

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Eagles mailbag: Derek Barnett's potential breakout, Carson Wentz's durability and contract concerns

Part 1 touched on Sidney Jones, Josh Adams and my pick for Eagles Rookie of the Year.

Part 2 answered questions about Corey Clement, UDFAs and Big V’s future as a guard.

Here’s Part 3:

I guess this answer depends on your definition of “break out year.” Barnett’s 2018 season ended prematurely with a shoulder injury that hampered him before the Eagles shut him down. But early in the year, I thought he was the best defensive end on the team (by that point Michael Bennett hadn’t played well and Brandon Graham was getting over his ankle injury). In six games, Barnett had 2 1/2 sacks. But before the shoulder injury, he had 2 1/2 in four games before he missed Week 5 with the shoulder injury that eventually ended his season. So Barnett was on pace for 10 sacks before the injury. With plenty of opportunity this season, I think Barnett can be a double-digit sack guy. Sure. That’s a good bar to set. Before Fletcher Cox did it in 2018, the last Eagle to top 10 sacks was Connor Barwin in 2014.

One thing is for sure: this is a big year for Barnett. The Eagles traded away Bennett, Chris Long just announced his retirement (see story) and the Eagles passed on taking an edge rusher early in what was supposed to be a historically deep class. Barnett needs to not just be a starter, but be extremely productive in Year 3.

This is an interesting question and there really aren’t many contracts from this offseason that even qualify. So many of these contracts done by Howie Roseman are one-year deals. The long-term ones were: DeSean Jackson, Malik Jackson, Brandon Graham, Isaac Seumalo. Seumalo’s deal is cheap enough that I won’t count him.

If I had to pick the most likely, it would be DeSean Jackson’s deal. He’s 32 and his game is predicated on speed. So even though we haven’t seen it, there’s a chance that speed disappears and the Eagles are left with a speed receiver sans speed. That’s possible. For the record, I’d be willing to take that risk, as the Eagles did, because Jackson’s speed was exactly the element the Eagles needed. I was tempted to say Graham because the Eagles did kind of overpay him, but even if he can’t get after the QB, he can at least stuff the run. If Jackson loses his speed, what good is he?

Yeah, eventually they’ll return as an alternate in my lifetime, which would make me thrilled because I could finally stop reporting on a jersey color. (Just kidding, love you guys.) The hold-up here is that the NFL has this antiquated rule that won’t allow teams to have more than one helmet for each player. It’s an old safety rule. Jeff Lurie says he wants kelly green jerseys, but they don’t want them without matching helmets. Before you bring up the Rams, they use the same helmets with different decals. The Eagles say decals aren’t an option for them. It’s alternate helmets or bust. A couple of years ago, competition committee chairman Rich McKay told me he was optimistic this rule would eventually be changed. For now, we wait.

I’ll say 14 or 15. I really don’t know. I think he’ll be healthy at the start of the season but maybe he gets hurt during the year and misses a game or two. I can’t see the future.

It’s fair to say the Eagles are in win-now mode, but none of their contracts really tie their hands long-term. That’s the interesting thing about what the Eagles have done. They have some real flexibility with their roster. They are clearly playing to win a Super Bowl this year, but they’ll have the ability to keep signing free agents and should have plenty of draft picks coming up. That’s important because they’ll need cheap talent to surround Wentz when he’s making $30+ million per year soon enough.

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Eagles defensive end Chris Long announces retirement

Eagles defensive end Chris Long announces retirement

After a few months of contemplation, Eagles defensive end Chris Long has made his decision.

He’s calling it a career.

The 34-year-old announced his official retirement from the NFL on Saturday night and he did it, of course, on Twitter.

Not long after his official announcement, the Eagles congratulated Long, who became a fan favorite in Philly during the two years he played here.

Back in 2008, Long was the Rams’ No. 2 pick in the draft out of Virginia. He played his first eight years in St. Louis, before winning a Super Bowl in 2016 with the Patriots and then winning again in 2017 with the Eagles. He reached legend status in Philly during that Super Bowl run for helping create the dog mask phenomenon and for then rocking out during the parade down Broad Street.

And it was Long who pressured Case Keenum to throw that pick-6 to Patrick Robinson in the NFC Championship Game. In two seasons in Philly, he had 11 1/2 sacks and forced six fumbles.

In his 11 years in the NFL, Long piled up a clean 70 sacks to go along with 15 forced fumbles.

The Eagles will miss Long on the field and off it. Aside from being a highly productive player in his two seasons with the Eagles, Long was also a very highly respected member of the locker room. He was a favorite among teammates and his sense of humor — he created a Nick Foles shrine last year — was infectious at the NovaCare Complex. (The funniest part of the Foles shrine was watching Long’s mischievous smile as he watched a bunch of reporters gobble it up.)

Long had a long and productive football career, but, really, his legacy will be the work he’s done off it. That work is not finished.

Long was named the 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his charitable efforts through the Chris Long Foundation. He clearly deserved the honor.

He’s given away his salary, raised millions for educational initiatives in cities across the country and, through his Waterboys initiative, has provided access to clean water for communities in East Africa for years.

While his teammates and coaches will be happy for Long, his departure does leave the Eagles a little light at defensive end. To his credit, Long told the Eagles to plan as if he wouldn’t be back. Long wasn’t interested in returning for a reduced role, which the Eagles told him he would have in 2019.

Without Long, the Eagles have Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller, Daeshon Hall and Joe Ostman as their defensive ends. Malik Jackson, signed this offseason, will play on third downs as a defensive tackle, taking stress off the ends, but the Eagles will still miss Long, who had been a third-down specialist during his time with the Eagles.

Last season, the Eagles entered the year with Long and Michael Bennett as their top rotational defensive ends. That was incredible depth they won’t have this season unless they make another move.

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