Doug Pederson 'very encouraged' by Carson Wentz's progress

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Doug Pederson 'very encouraged' by Carson Wentz's progress

ORLANDO, Fla. — Doug Pederson wouldn’t give a timeline for Carson Wentz’s recovery but said he’s “very encouraged” by the progress Wentz has made. 

As Pederson spoke to reporters at the NFL league meetings on Tuesday morning, it had been three months and 17 days since Wentz suffered a torn ACL and LCL against the Rams at the LA Coliseum. But who’s counting? 

“He’s working extremely hard, obviously, trying to get himself ready to go,” Pederson said. “But really no timetable. I’m not going to push him out there if he’s not ready.”

Pederson said he’s encouraged by Wentz’s progress based on what he’s seen firsthand and what he’s heard from those around the 25-year-old franchise quarterback. Wentz has been at the NovaCare Complex every day, in the weight room, in the pool, as he works to get back on the field after his possible MVP season was cut short in 2017. 

It’s unlikely Wentz will be ready to do any individual work in practice when OTAs begin this spring. That means Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will take first-team reps, while Nate Sudfeld will get the rest, much like how the Eagles operated down the stretch of the 2017 regular season. 

While there was plenty of trade speculation swirling around Foles this offseason — Howie Roseman explained the high price-tag (see story) — Pederson is “ecstatic” to have Foles back and is happy the quarterback room is still intact. 
At some point, though, Wentz is going to return to his spot as the Eagles’ starter. And that will mean the Super Bowl MVP is going to trade in his starting gig to hold a clipboard again. 

Is Foles going to be OK with that? 

“I think so,” Pederson said. “That’s obviously probably a Nick question, but I just kind of know Nick and his mentality and I think he’s fine with that. He understands it’s Carson’s team. He knew that last year, but he did embrace his role and did it superbly. Moving forward, I think he’s going to be OK.”

Even as Foles led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl win in franchise history, the team did everything in its power to make it clear there was no quarterback controversy. Even in the team photo during Super Bowl week, the entire roster was ordered numerically except for Wentz, who was positioned in the direct center.  

When Wentz finally returns, perhaps during training camp, Pederson said it will be a slow process to ease him back into action. Pederson said he doesn’t need Wentz to play in the preseason and he doesn’t think Wentz will need it either. It’s all about getting him ready for Week 1. 

There’s a good chance that even when Wentz does return, he won’t be the same player at first. When asked how tough he thinks it’ll be for Wentz to learn how to play without all of his mobility, Pederson said he didn’t know. 

For now, though, the head coach is happy about his the progress of his franchise quarterback. He just doesn’t want to rush it. 

“You guys know Carson, you know his demeanor, you know his mentality, he’s aggressive, he’s going to want to push the envelope a little bit,” Pederson said. “We’re going to be smart with it. I like where he’s at, but again, not going to push him.”

Eagles prepared to be bigger players in free agency this offseason

Eagles prepared to be bigger players in free agency this offseason

INDIANAPOLIS — A few weeks before the start of free agency, Howie Roseman hinted on Tuesday that the Eagles will be more active this year than in recent offseasons. 

With ample salary cap space in tow, the Eagles’ general manager didn’t come out and say that the Birds will be players for top free agent targets when free agency begins on March 18, but he did make it pretty clear that the philosophy in 2020 is a departure from 2018 and 2019. 

After a couple offseasons of bargain shopping for players to plug into what the Eagles viewed as their Super Bowl roster, the Eagles are in what Roseman termed a retooling period. 

That means the Eagles are prepared to spend some bigger money this offseason. 

“I think what would be fair to say is that over the last two years, coming off the Super Bowl, we had a different amount of resources going forward,” Roseman said at the combine on Tuesday. “And we were looking at our team-building over that ’17, ’18, ’19 period, and we knew at ’20 we were going to have to change that a little bit. 

“Now we’re looking at it over the course of a window. Not that we don’t want to win this year — we desperately want to win this year — but more over building this team over 2020, 2021, hopefully 2022.

“It’s hard to look three years out, really, but keep our eye on that. I think that maybe changes the complexion of some of our decisions this offseason, that it’s different from coming off the Super Bowl or coming off losing to the Saints in the divisional round.” 

Roseman made it clear that the Eagles aren’t looking for aging players on one-year deals anymore. Forget plugging holes in the short-term; they want to build with longevity in mind. This is a departure from recent seasons and a necessary philosophical change as the Eagles continue to get further from their Super Bowl LII win. 

It’s no longer about recreating the Super Bowl team. 

It’s about creating the next one. 

Roseman said the Eagles aren’t undergoing a “total rebuild” but are simple in a “retool period.” That makes sense. They have several cornerstone players already in place: Carson Wentz, Miles Sanders, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox, etc. 

With 10 draft picks, the Eagles can supplement those cornerstone pieces with young and cheap talent. (They also have the ammo to trade up and down the board in April.) 

And with plenty of cap space, they can also supplement those cornerstone pieces with relatively younger free agents who can be viable players for the next several seasons instead of one- or two-year rentals. 

Think back to when the Eagles signed Brooks, Rodney McLeod and Nigel Bradham in the 2016 offseason. 

Since then, Roseman has said those types of deals have become more expensive, so they’ll have to judge each case this offseason independently. Signing a 26-year-old to an exorbitant contract just because he’s 26 doesn’t make sense. 

But if the Eagles are able to find some middle ground, find perhaps a second-tier guy in his 20s that won’t break the bank, that would be the best of both worlds. 

And if they feel comfortable shooting their shot for a player like Amari Cooper, Byron Jones or Yannick Ngakoue, that’s a possibility too. 

“Now when we look at it,” Roseman said, “I think the scenario changes a little bit, in terms of, if we can get the right free agents, we’re not in a mode now where maybe we try to find the undervalued older guys that we tried to find over the last couple of years, and going forward, we’re trying to build this over a period of time, we’re not kind of in this one-year window. 

“We talked in January about looking at this, 2020, 2021 and 2022 in this three-year period who are part of it, I guess kind of similar to how we looked at free agency in maybe 2016 and ’17.”

That approach helped them win a Super Bowl. This situation is different, but Roseman is hoping going back to it will do the trick again. 

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Eagle Eye podcast: The biggest news from the combine

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Eagle Eye podcast: The biggest news from the combine

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank is joined by Dave Zangaro from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to go over the biggest storylines of the day. 

Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Tuesday about a wide range of topics. 

Will Jason Peters return? Have the Eagles changed their free agent philosophy? And what will the coaching staff really look like in 2020? 

• One more year of Jason Peters? 
• Eagles might change free agency approach
• More details about the coaching structure
• The rise of Press Taylor 
• What will Rich Scangarello do?  
• Breaking down Duce Staley’s role in the organization 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles