Carson Wentz still adjusting to being 'the man' in Philly

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Carson Wentz still adjusting to being 'the man' in Philly

What do we really know about Carson Wentz? He's a good quarterback. He loves to hunt and fish. He's very religious.

Honestly, that's about it.

He's been an Eagle for a year and a half and our knowledge of the would-be savior of the franchise remains a closed book. A mystery to everybody in Philadelphia.

So what about the real Carson Wentz? What about the guy who hasn't let us get to know him yet? What is Carson Wentz all about when he lets his guard down? Who is Carson Wentz beyond a devout hunter who throws a football far?

Wentz ponders the question for a second and then smiles.

"That’s pretty much all there is to it," he said. "I’m pretty simple."

We want to know everything about our quarterbacks. It's natural for a football-obsessed fan base. We knew all about Randall Cunningham's childhood, Donovan McNabb's high-profile college career, Michael Vick's stay in prison.

But Wentz?

The 24-year-old from Bismarck, North Dakota, says there's not much to really know. In a recent interview, he said he'll always keep his life private but admitted there's not much about him that people don't know.

“I feel like what I am and who I am is kind of out there," he said. "I do like being low-key, I do like being private, for the most part. I think this business, this world that I’ve come into, is really cool, but it can be a lot sometimes and sometimes it’s just nice to go home and be chill and be away from everything. But it’s cool at the same time.

"I definitely do enjoy it. There are perks of it. Honestly, seeing kids and stuff? That part’s really cool. Seeing how excited they can get. But at the same time, there are times I just want to go into Target real quick and or have something go on in my life so there’s those things.

"But honestly? What people know about me? That’s who I am and what I am and there's really not a lot more to it.”

Wentz knew what he was getting into when the Eagles drafted him. He knew how rabid the fans are here, he knew that the size of the market meant more intense scrutiny than most NFL cities, and he knew that the lifestyle he knew from small-town North Dakota and craved for himself as he moved on with his life would be very difficult to maintain.

To help isolate himself, he moved into deep South Jersey, where he can hunt and fish and get around with a large degree of anonymity.

But celebrity is impossible to avoid. No matter how hard you try.

"I was in the mall in Deptford in the spring," Wentz said. "I was literally talking to a guy for 20 minutes and there was a line of 20 people waiting.

"I said, 'Guys, I literally have to go. This isn't going to work.'"

Wentz got a taste of it in college. He was considered a god at North Dakota State and really throughout the Fargo area.

It prepared him for all this. But only a little.

"I did kind of have an idea that's what it was going to be," he said. "Back in Fargo even, before the draft, that's kind of what it evolved into. Even playing as a senior in college. In Fargo, Bison football is what it's all about.

"Just going to places in college, you kind of got that treatment to some extent. I was ready for it, but obviously, it's a bigger scale here. It's cool at the same time.”

Wentz said it's a nearly impossible challenge balancing his desire to just be a normal person and run to Target when he needs a few things while still maintaining his obsessive privacy.

“You kind of pick and choose, honestly," he said. "I know for me in the offseason, I wasn’t as reserved about things, like going public. It is what it is. But during the season I like to be focused on football and then go home and be insulated.

"So it’s kind of pick and choose and knowing when you’re comfortable with those things. But at the same time, it’s part of it, and I’m learning every time I go do something  — the reaction and everything. But honestly, just kind of learning on the fly.

"And like where I live, for example, I’ve gone to some places down there a number times where it’s starting to get normal a little bit where I can kind of be fairly casual for the most part."

Wentz said when he leaves the NovaCare Complex at night and heads home he likes to get completely away from football.

He spends time with his brother and his family, who live 10 minutes away in deep South Jersey, and likes to play with his dogs in his large backyard.

Wentz said he spends about 12 hours a day at the NovaCare Complex during the season, and when he leaves, he doesn't want to talk about or think about football. Being home is an important time for him to refresh and escape the game a bit.

So if you run into Wentz at the Deptford Mall, ask about his dogs, hunting or his favorite podcast.

Just don't ask about football. And that goes for family members, too.

“There’s times where I’ll be talking to my mom and she’ll be asking me football questions and I’ll be like, ‘Mom, I’m going to hang up,'" he said.

"Like, I’ll call you to see how you’re doing, but I don’t want to talk about football.’ Even my brother, who knows the game really well, will talk about it (but only) if I bring it up."

On Sunday, Wentz will become only the third homegrown quarterback in the last 40 years to start two straight openers for the Eagles, joining McNabb and Cunningham.

It feels like Wentz has already embraced the city and the fans more than McNabb ever did. McNabb, for all his success, never came across as someone who loved playing in Philadelphia.

Wentz has made that connection in a very deep way in a little over a year, and he's done it while still staying true to his North Dakota roots.

He's managed to stay true to his roots 1,600 miles away while still truly becoming a Philly guy.

"The things I like about North Dakota, that's who I am," Wentz said. "I'm not going to let the culture I live in and where I live kind of change me. I'm just going to keep being me.

"If other people embrace it, that's cool. If they don't, I'm OK with it because I'm comfortable with who I am. Like the hunting and all that stuff, I'm fortunate enough that I can do that out in New Jersey. I can kind of get that peace of mind to get away from the game.

"It's kind of just who I am and what I'm about. Not going to let where I live and the circumstances change that.”

All of this doesn't mean Wentz doesn't appreciate what makes Eagles fans unique. He does. 

He clearly gets it.

"My brother and I and his wife were going to dinner in the spring and some guy knew who I was and just kept walking by, but kept screaming, ‘You’re the (expletive) man,’ and started doing the Eagles' chant," Wentz said.

"Like the whole street was doing it. That’s Philly right there. That’s what they’re all about. It was hilarious.”

Eagles injury update: Jason Peters had knee scoped, but ready to return to practice

Eagles injury update: Jason Peters had knee scoped, but ready to return to practice

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson confirmed on Wednesday morning that left tackle Jason Peters had arthroscopic surgery — a knee scope — during his three-week absence, but Peters will return to practice today. 

Peters, 37, missed the last three starts before the bye week with a knee injury. During that time, rookie Andre Dillard has filled in. 

“He’ll practice today and we’ll see where he’s at at the end of the week,” Pederson said. “He had that done to take care of that.” 

Whenever Peters is ready to return to game action, which could be this weekend against the Patriots, he will take back his starting gig. In six starts this season, Peters has played the entire game just twice. 

Here were a few other injury notes from Pederson on Wednesday: 

• Alshon Jeffery (ankle) is “day to day,” according to Pederson. Before the bye week, Jeffery left the game against the Bears early. He was not practicing on Wednesday. 

“It (the bye week) helped him,” Pederson said. “He’s still sore. A lot of guys are still sore. But it helped him and we’ll see. He’s kind of day to day.”

• Wednesday was the first time we’ve talked to Pederson since DeSean Jackson had core muscle surgery and went on IR. Pederson said the initial decision to avoid surgery was Jackson’s, as was the decision to have it at this time.  

Since the first question on Wednesday was about Jackson, Pederson’s took his time with a complete statement: 

In DeSean’s case, listen, there has been a lot of discussion with DeSean from the moment he came out of the Falcons came to the decision to play in the Bears game to surgery. And we talk a lot with the player, we talk a lot with our medical staff. We even talk to external sources, third-party people who have expertise in this area. I’m not the doctor, nor did I look at MRIs or X-rays or any of that. And DeSean, listen, DeSean busted his tail electively to try to get it fixed himself, to get it rehabbed and come back. He busted his tail, he was cleared to play, he felt good. And for me, as the coach, I listen to the player, I listed to what his body is telling him.

Everything was a go. And then he felt something in the game, pulled him out as I said after the game for precautionary reasons, we had it checked again and then we went down the road of surgery. Which, again, communication with him, the player again, it’s elective by the player. We support this decision, we support DeSean. He wants to be out there with his teammates. It’s unfortunate that this happened, but it did. Injuries are a part of this game and reoccurrence of injuries are a part of this game. With that being said, that’s where we’re at.

• Nigel Bradham (ankle) is improving but isn’t quite ready to practice, according to Pederson. He’ll likely be running on a side field. 

“He is feeling better,” Pederson said. “Optimistic that there’s a chance for this game. 

It is worth noting, though, that recently when Pederson expresses optimism but the player doesn’t practice, that player doesn’t play. We’ll have to see if Bradham practices at all this week. If he doesn’t, it’s more likely he’ll be back after this week. 

• Cre’Von LeBlanc (foot) is still on Injured Reserve and isn’t ready to practice yet. Pederson said LeBlanc is “still working.” 

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10 reasons to be optimistic about the Eagles

10 reasons to be optimistic about the Eagles

There’s a lot of negativity surrounding the Eagles right now, and some of it is understandable considering how disappointing the wide receivers have been, how badly the Eagles were blown out by the Vikings and Cowboys and how high expectations were coming into the season.

Still, despite it all, the Eagles are 5-4, tied for first in the NFC East, winners of four of their last six games, and they have a 62 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.

Sometimes we all have to be reminded that maybe things aren’t quite as bad as they seem.

There’s two ways to do that: 1) Stay off Twitter for a while, and 2) Read this list of 10 reasons for Eagles fans to be optimistic going into the final seven games of the season.

1. DOUG: He has his quirks, but the bottom line is Doug Pederson is 38-24 as an NFL head coach, and that .613 winning percentage is 4th-highest among the 32 active NFL head coaches. The Eagles have the 8th-best record in the NFL since Pederson took over as head coach in 2016. Bottom line is the Eagles are in good hands. Pederson knows how to get the most out of his players, and he knows how to win.

2. CARSON: It’s mindblowing that there are still fans out there blabbering about Nick Foles. Dude’s a folk hero around here but it’s time to move on. It’s impossible to argue with the job Wentz has done this year with minimal contributions from his wide receivers. How do you have 15 TDs and 4 INTs without any wide receivers consistently contributing? Over the last three years, Wentz has started 33 games and had two bad ones – Saints last year, Falcons this year. In his 31 other games, he’s got 68 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He’s 21-12 since opening day 2017, the 7th-best winning percentage among NFL. As long as he’s the Eagles’ quarterback, they have a chance to win every game.

3. THE LINC: The Eagles have the second-best home record in the NFL since 2016 at 23-7 for a .767 winning percentage. Of those 30 games, there’s only been one the Eagles lost by more than a touchdown – that was a 14-point loss to the Packers in 2016, and even that was a four-point game in the fourth quarter. The Eagles are in every game at the Linc, where they play four of their next six games.

4. FLETCHER: One of the most encouraging developments of the past couple weeks has been Fletcher Cox really returning to form. Cox is finally healthy after that foot injury he suffered in the playoff loss to the Saints, and having their one-man wrecking crew back at full strength is going to be huge down the stretch.

5. THE CORNERBACKS: Not that long ago the Eagles were running Craig James, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas and Orlando Scandrick out there. Now Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Avonte Maddox are all back, and Cre’Von LeBlanc will be back soon.  That’s a monumental upgrade.

6. JORDAN MATTHEWS: He became their best wide receiver when he walked through the front door of the NovaCare Complex. Hey, I don’t know how much Matthews will help, but he’s a solid pro, he’s got great chemistry with Wentz, and he knows the offense. He instantly makes this a better wide receiving crew.

7. THE RUNNING GAME: Over the past seven weeks, the Eagles are averaging 140 rushing yards per game, 6th-best in the league. The Miles Sanders-Jordan Howard tandem behind this massive o-line has proven to be formidable. It’s not the offense the Eagles planned on, but their running game has developed into one of the league’s best.

8. PASS PRESSURE: After recording an NFL-low three sacks the first four games of the season, the Eagles have 22 in their last five games, second-most in the NFL. Brandon Graham has come to life, Derek Barnett is showing flashes and Cox has been his old dominating self. The Eagles are 20-7 under Pederson when they get three or more sacks. They’re 18-17 when they don’t.

9. THE COWBOYS: The Eagles’ only competition in the division is a team that lost to the Jets. That’s not only embarrassing, it’s huge for tiebreaker purposes. The Eagles have wins over the Packers and Jets, and the Cowboys lost to both. If the Eagles and Cowboys split the season series and both finish with 4-2 division records, the team with a better record in common opponents wins the division. If the Eagles take care of business, that will be them.

10. THE SCHEDULE: Which leads us to the schedule. Even if the Eagles lose to the Patriots and Seahawks, as long as they beat the Cowboys at home they’ll reach 10-6 by beating the 2-8 Giants twice and the 1-8 Redskins and 2-7 Dolphins. In that case, the only way the Eagles lose the division is if the Cowboys go 6-1 in all their other games. That is not going to happen.

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