There’s a good chance Carson Wentz won’t play in the Eagles’ first preseason game, and he doesn’t seem all that broken up about it.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson wouldn’t say after practice Tuesday whether Wentz will play, but everything points to Wentz sitting Thursday night against the Titans at the Linc.
If he does play it will be brief.
"Preseason’s helpful, but I don’t think it’s a necessity,” Wentz said after practice. “No matter how much I’m out there I’ll be confident in Week 1. … I think a little bit is helpful. But it’s definitely never needed.”
Wentz didn’t play in the preseason last year as he rehabbed from knee surgery, but Pederson didn’t have opening-day starter Nick Foles play in last year’s preseason opener. Wentz played one drive in the 2017 opener. Sam Bradford was still the starter when the 2016 preseason started, and he played three snaps in the 2016 preseason opener.
“It’s his decision,” Wentz said. “I’ll be ready either way. Whenever it is we get out there I’ll be ready and I’m excited for it.”
Wentz hasn’t played since the overtime loss in Dallas on Dec. 9.
Nate Sudfeld is now the Eagles’ No. 2 with Foles in Jacksonville, and the Eagles have two new quarterbacks in rookie Clayton Thorson and fourth-year veteran Cody Kessler.
Pederson said there are positives to playing Wentz and positives to not playing him.
Obviously, (the reason) for (playing him) is it’s been a while since he’s been on the field and want to get him that feel of being back on the grass again in a competitive live situation,” he said. “And then obviously the reason for holding him is (to) still evaluate Nate and some of the other quarterbacks with Cody and Clayton, so those are the things we’re working through.
Pederson said he wants to get a long look at Sudfeld, who's in his fourth season but only thrown 25 regular-season passes, none of them in a game that meant anything.
Sudfeld doesn’t have the No. 2 job locked up, but it would take a combination of an exceptional preseason performance by Kessler and a disappointing one by Sudfeld for them to switch places.
Since Wentz will almost certainly play in the second preseason game next Thursday in Jacksonville against the Jaguars and on Aug. 22 at the Linc against the Ravens, this Thursday would seem to be a great opportunity to start Sudfeld and get him a significant number of reps, perhaps against at least some of the Titans’ first teamers.
The goal would be to get him as much time as we can under center in these four games, and I don’t want him to feel there’s any kind of pressure, but there is pressure to perform and just play," Pederson said. "He is very comfortable with the offense. … I want to see him just manage the team, manage the offense, execute the offense, get us in the end zone, and do the things he’s capable of doing, and that there shows what he can possibly do in the regular season.
No matter what else Pederson decides to do, Thorson will probably get the fourth quarter.
The rookie fifth-round pick from Northwestern has bounced back a bit the past few days after a shaky first week. Which is to be expected.
“It’s a slow progression with young quarterbacks and really young players in general, but he’s getting real comfortable with what we’re doing,” Pederson said. “You have to remember that every time he steps out here it’s a little bit of a new day with what we’re throwing at him situationally and he’s handled it really well, and we want him to carry it over into the game.”
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