Doug Pederson discusses plan for Carson Wentz, young QBs in preseason

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Doug Pederson discusses plan for Carson Wentz, young QBs in preseason

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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40-year-old Josh McCown was getting ready to play WR on Monday night

40-year-old Josh McCown was getting ready to play WR on Monday night

The Eagles entered Monday night’s game with just three healthy wide receivers and after Alshon Jeffery and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside got hurt, they were down to just one. 

So who would have been the next guy in? 

Well, 40-year-old quarterback Josh McCown was getting ready. 

“I was ready to go,” McCown told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark. “We had the helmet ready to go. The equipment guys were all over it. Had the radio-less helmet because you can’t have two green dots on the field at the same time.” 

McCown didn’t end up playing in Monday’s 23-17 overtime win. The Eagles got by with what they had, which meant playing third tight end Josh Perkins in several different spots. 

But the oldest player on the roster was ready. 

“We were ready to roll,” he said. “Shoot, I’d get in there and go. Obviously, as a quarterback, you know the offense. I guess it was like 12 years ago in Foxboro I had to go in and do it.”

That game McCown was talking about was on Dec. 3, 2006. That was the last time he caught a pass in an NFL game. 

In that game, McCown caught two passes for 15 yards from Lions quarterback Jon Kitna in a 28-21 loss to the Patriots. He also caught a 31-yard pass but it was brought back on an offensive pass interference call that he claimed was “a little suspect.” 

“Hopefully, I don’t get retroactively fined,” McCown said late Monday night, 13 years after the call. 

Is there a statute of limitations on that? 

Anyway, the fact that a 40-year-old McCown was even preparing to enter a game as a receiver is telling. First, about the injuries at that position. And, second, about the poor decision to go into a game with just three healthy receivers. 

Doug Pederson said the Eagles were hoping to have Nelson Agholor for the game, but he came in questionable and was inactive. 

At least they had McCown. 

“I’m not quite the option that J.J. (Arcega-Whiteside) is or Greg (Ward), obviously, but again, we were kind of up against it a little bit,” McCown said. “Just being able to have a contingency plan was the main thing. I was ready to roll.”

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Carson Wentz rallies Eagles past Giants throwing to ... who???

Carson Wentz rallies Eagles past Giants throwing to ... who???

It was Carson Wentz’s best stretch of football this year and it occurred under some of the most unusual circumstances you can imagine.

Tight ends playing receiver. Slot receivers playing outside. Practice squad guys in key roles.

A week after the Eagles blew a 14-point second-half lead to one two-win team, they rallied back from a 14-point second-half deficit against another two-win team.

And Wentz, after another slow start, finally looked like his old self.

Wentz not only rallied the Eagles back after they trailed by 14 points with two minutes left in the third quarter, he did it while throwing to Boston Scott, Greg Ward, Josh Perkins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside – none of whom were even playing a month ago – as well as Zach Ertz.

It is not easy,” Ertz said. “As a quarterback, chemistry, trust and timing is the No. 1 thing, and he’s putting a lot of trust in guys that he does not have a lot of reps with, and I think that speaks volumes of him. Being able to go out there, and it doesn’t really matter who is out there, NFC East opponent, down 17-3, and play his best football in that second half all year? I am extremely proud of him tonight with the way he led us.

Wentz threw for 350 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ critical 23-17 overtime win over the Giants at the Linc.

But look at his numbers on the Eagles’ five drives during their late comeback: 21-for-28 for 226 yards with two TD passes to Ertz, including the game-winner in overtime.

You go into the game with three receivers and now you’ve got Greg Ward usually in the slot and he’s out there playing (outside)," Wentz said. "You’ve got guys moving around. For me, I’ve got no choice but to trust these guys. Some of these routes I’ve never even repped before in those situations, but they stepped up and made plays. They did a great job.

This was vintage Wentz. But it couldn’t have happened without guys making plays around him.

And it's been a while since we've seen that.

With Nelson Agholor out, Alshon Jeffery leaving with an early injury and Mack Hollins and Jordan Matthews long gone, Wentz had to rally the Eagles back from 17-3 with guys he’s barely practiced with.

With a shot at the playoffs at stake.

Just keep believing,” Wentz said. “Keep believing and it’s time to make a decision how this is going to define us. Obviously, we knew it was not our first half. That was a rough one and that was an ugly one. We just said, ‘Keep believing and keep staying together.’ Defense was going to take care of their piece, which they did. And we were able to do enough offensively to get this win.

Wentz has had his issues this year, and he had his issues in the first half Monday night.

But it’s amazing how much better he looks when guys are actually catching footballs for him.

This was the first time the Eagles have come back from a 14-point halftime deficit since the 2014 opener, when they beat the Jaguars 34-17 after trailing 17-0.

Before that? Giants in 2010 at the Meadowlands. You might remember a DeSean Jackson punt return as time expired?

In all, the Eagles were 2-45 in their last 47 games when they trailed by at least 14 points at halftime.

Wentz was asked how big it was for him to win his first overtime game and engineer a rally from 14 down at halftime for the first time in his career.

This is huge for this whole team,” he said. “To come in after halftime, to be where we were, and obviously knowing that our backs were against the wall, season on the line-type of thing, for guys to just stay tough and stay together late in the game … and get the win and drive down to score right away? It’s huge for me personally and for this entire team.

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