Carson Wentz checks off another box, one more to go in rehab

Carson Wentz checks off another box, one more to go in rehab

While most of his teammates walked on to the practice field today just before noon, Carson Wentz walked out of the NovaCare Complex and broke into a brisk jog. 

He was pretty excited. 

Because not only was this the first practice of the 2018 training camp, it was also time for him to check off another box in his recovery. For the first time this offseason, Wentz participated in full-team 11-on-11 drills. It was a light practice Thursday as the camp kicked off, but Wentz was under center in full-team drills for the first time since tearing his ACL and LCL back on Dec. 10. 

The final remaining hurdle for Wentz is to get cleared for contact. With six weeks until his goal return, Week 1 against the Falcons, that’s the only thing standing in his way. 

“That’ll be the next step," Wentz said, "the next goal." 

That will come in time, but on Thursday, it wasn’t hard to see the progress. During spring practices, the Eagles limited Wentz to individual and 7-on-7 drills, which ensure there will be absolutely no chance of a player inadvertently landing on or running into the quarterback. In 11-on-11s, there are linemen battling right in front of the QB. Wentz said he did things to prepare for that during his rehab (like drills where they throw tennis balls at the quarterbacks) but getting reps with real linemen in front of him is a bigger deal.  

So the fact that Wentz was able to get out there for them today — albeit briefly — is a great sign. And it went really well. 

Wentz acknowledged he didn’t get a ton of work, but “felt great.” He's also getting used to that brace on his left knee after a little trial and error. 

“I thought he was comfortable,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “He did some nice things today. It was obviously very limited. We didn’t do too much. I think we had 30 offensive plays. It was a good start for everybody.” 

While Nick Foles took first-team reps and Wentz worked with the second team, Pederson and Wentz indicated they expect Wentz to eventually get worked in with the first team. Earlier in the spring, Pederson said the two quarterbacks would split those reps. 

It might seem somewhat surprising that Wentz was able to participate in 11-on-11 drills the day after a report from NFL Network surfaced about the possibility of Wentz starting training camp on the PUP, which wouldn’t have allowed him to practice at all. Wentz said he never had conversations about that possibility and Pederson said he had “no idea where that came from.”

Throughout Wentz’s rehab, the Eagles have been unwilling to talk about any sort of timetable. That hasn’t changed. But now the clock is ticking a little louder. The Eagles play their first preseason game in two weeks and they’ll open the NFL season in exactly six weeks on Sept. 6. 

“We’ve got a lot of time,” Pederson said when asked when they’d need to shift their focus from Wentz’s rehab to preparing for Week 1. “Six weeks is a lot of time. … I can’t tell you exactly when that’s going to be in camp, but it’s going to be … I’m not going to push him. He and I are married to this deal. His longterm health, obviously, I want him to have success in this league for a long, long time and I want to make sure it’s right. It’s hard to say when that time is.”

Wentz didn’t want to discuss a timeframe either. He said he’s been happy with their plan of attack and hasn’t wavered from his goal of being ready for the opener. I wouldn’t expect him to see much — if any — action in the preseason. It's all about the games that matter. 

When asked when he would need to be cleared for contact in order to be able to play in the opener, Wentz said Sept. 6, the day of that first game. It seems pretty clear that whenever Wentz is cleared to play, he’s going to play. 

For now, the Eagles are going to remain patient. But Eagles fans should certainly be happy knowing Wentz checked off another huge milestone in his rehab today. Just one more to go.

More on the Eagles

NFL Free Agency: Eagles could face Jadeveon Clowney next year on NFC East rival

NFL Free Agency: Eagles could face Jadeveon Clowney next year on NFC East rival

Jadeveon Clowney is Public Enemy No. 1 for Eagles fans right now, after his dirty hit in the Wild Card round injured Carson Wentz and ended the Birds' playoff hopes.

Can you imagine facing Clowney twice in 2020? That might end up a reality, according to a report from none other than ESPN's Josina Anderson, another villain from the Wentz hit fallout.

Anderson reports that Clowney is opening to returning to the Seahawks in 2020, but is also open to other opportunities, and could be courted by an Eagles rival:

Ignoring the football implications for now - Clowney, antics aside, is good at football - let's think instead about the absolute mayhem that would meet Clowney when the Giants visited The Linc.

It would probably be... a lot. For a fanbase willing to boo its own guys, that's nothing compared to the wrath Philly fans unleash when they feel they've been wronged by a player, justified or not. Just ask Sidney Crosby how his last decade-plus of visits to this side of the state have been, without anything nearly as malicious on his rap sheet.

The entire organization was angry about the play, from guys like Jason Peters in the hours after the hit to Howie Roseman talking about its lingering effects just this week (see story), which means we'd likely see a fired-up team take the field in that first Giants game, especially if it happened to be at home, emotions swirling in the South Philly winds.

Roseman encapsulated most fans' feelings when he spoke at the NFL Combine on Wednesday:

We thought that was a foul. We’re sick to our stomach about the way our season ended for our team and Carson in particular. (...) Doug’s sick. Jeffery’s sick about it. Our whole organization is sick about it. We’re there, we have a home playoff game, eight plays in? Come on.

Luckily for Eagles fans seeking to voice their frustration, even if Clowney goes back to Seattle, he'll still visit the Linc next year. But it would be doubly satisfying to beat him while he plays for a division rival.

Can you imagine the roar of the crowd as Wentz spins out of a Clowney sack attempt, rolls to his right, and rifles a pass to Dallas Goedert to go up by two scores? The Linc might not survive.

We'll see what happens.

More on the Eagles

Eagles doing homework on top WRs in draft, but can they find the right one?

Eagles doing homework on top WRs in draft, but can they find the right one?

INDIANAPOLIS — The Eagles’ biggest need this offseason happens to line up with the biggest area of strength in the NFL Draft. 

It seems too easy, right? 

There’s a reason why just about every mock draft has the Eagles taking a receiver with the 21st pick and while there’s no guarantee they go that way, the thought process checks out. 

And as the Eagles are in Indianapolis for the annual scouting combine, they are doing their homework on the top receivers in this class. As of Tuesday, players like Henry Ruggs III and Justin Jefferson had already met with the Eagles and guys like Tee Higgins and KJ Hamler were expecting their meetings with the Birds the following day. 

The Eagles will have plenty of options at receiver in April when it comes to the draft. NFL Network analyst and former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah raved about this class of receivers last week, saying he thinks there are 27 receivers worthy of grades in the top three rounds.

While it seems like everyone throughout the league is raving about how great this receiver class is, Howie Roseman on Tuesday played coy. 

“We don’t have all the information,” Roseman said. “I think we look at all these positions as we go here, the medical’s a big part of it, the interviews are a big part of it. How they learn. The testing is a part of it, so you throw that all together. 

“We’ve been in a position where there’s a bunch of guys we like and maybe they’re a medical reject or something happens off the field as we dig as we go through the process. And then all of a sudden, we think we have 12 guys that we like and we’re at 8. Let’s see where all the information comes in and we’ll see where we’re at.”

Maybe Roseman is downplaying how good this class is because he’s been burned before by statements about the greatness of a position class. Remember in 2017, when he called the running back class “historic” and then the Eagles ended up with Donnel Pumphrey in the fourth round? 

That’s not the only time the Eagles have gone into a draft heavy at a certain position and not come out with a top guy. And Roseman even cautioned against going into a draft preoccupied with the idea of needing to get a player at a position just because of how good the class is supposed to be. 

“I don’t think it’s a mistake not taking guys early in the strength of that draft, because what happens is, guys at other positions fall to you, because of that, and that gives you an opportunity to still get value,” he said. 

Fair enough, but the Eagles need a receiver and this class is full of them … maybe don’t overthink it. 

The Eagles’ recent history picking receivers won’t exactly instill a lot of confidence. After all, the reason they need to find receivers this offseason is in part because they’ve struggled to draft them. 

But the Eagles shouldn’t be thinking about their past failures drafting receivers. Learn from those mistakes? Sure. But they have a real opportunity to find a playmaker in April. 

Before testing, it seems like the top three receivers in the class are Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs III. Then there might be a bit of a drop-off to guys like Tee Higgins, Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk. And Laviska Shenault is talented but has significant injury concerns, which might scare the Eagles off. And then there’s another drop-off to players in the second round. 

Here’s how NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks ranks the top five at the position: 

1. Jerry Jeudy 

2. CeeDee Lamb

3. Henry Ruggs III

4. Laviska Shenault 

5. Tee Higgins

The player most Eagles fans seem to be enthralled with is Ruggs and for good reason. Despite his smaller stature (5-11, 188), Ruggs is an absolute burner. The Eagles need speed and Ruggs has it. 

His goal for the 40-yard dash is a lofty one. 

“I’m trying to hit the lowest ever,” Ruggs said. “So 4.22 or lower.”

If Ruggs runs a 4.22, you can kiss any hope of him being available at 21 good-bye. Heck, that’s probably a pipe dream already. 

But after having just five draft picks in 2018 and 2019, the Eagles expect to have 10 picks in April. Plenty of ammunition to trade up for a player they deem worthy. 

“So if there is a guy that we thought was an incredibly highly valued, and we could go up and go get him,” Roseman said, “we couldn’t take that off the table.”

In April, the Eagles will have their opportunity to draft a big-time receiver to give Carson Wentz a much-needed weapon for the next several years. Now, they just have to figure out which one. 

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