Eagles tight end Zach Ertz missed practice again Wednesday and it’s still not clear when he’ll be ready to return.
At his locker Wednesday afternoon, Ertz spoke for the first time since it was revealed he suffered a displaced first rib in Week 1 vs. the Browns, but declined to talk about a timetable for his return.
“I haven’t really done a lot of football stuff recently,” Ertz said. “I’m not in a lot of pain right now. It’s just a matter of healing.”
While Ertz isn’t practicing, he has been lifting weights and doing cardio.
When talking about the injury last week, head coach Doug Pederson called it a dangerous one because of the placement near vital parts of the body. Ertz basically just has to wait for the rib, which was displaced about seven millimeters according to Pederson, to go back where it’s supposed to be.
“There’s just a lot of stuff behind that rib, you just have to worry,” Ertz said. “If it was a lower rib with where the pain is now, I’d easily be able to play last week.”
While the injury is dangerous because another shot could have done further damage, Ertz played most of Week 1’s game after the hit that caused it. He thought the injury was just an AC sprain, which he’s played through plenty times before.
Ertz didn’t play Monday night and is probably a long-shot to play this upcoming Sunday against the Steelers. Sunday’s game will be the last before an early Week 4 bye.
That means third tight end Trey Burton, who had five catches for 49 yards and a touchdown against the Bears, will again have a big role (see story).
“It was great to see him. I mean, I’ve seen that for the past three years,” Ertz said. “Really excited for him. He’s a heckuva football player. I’m real excited to have the three of us finally out there whenever that might be. I think we’re going to pose a lot of problems for defenses.
“But it was really good to see [Burton] play. We know what he can do. He’s kind of been the third guy behind the two of us, Brent and I, but if someone gets hurt, the next guy has to step up and he did that.”
If you think Carson Wentz doesn’t look like a rookie, you’re not alone. In fact, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson agrees.
On Monday night in Chicago, Wentz had another impressive showing, completing 21 of 34 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown. He’s now thrown 71 passes in the NFL without turning the ball over.
The numbers are impressive, but that’s not what has impressed Pederson the most.
“Was it perfect? It was by no means perfect,” Pederson said Monday night after the 29-14 win. “At the same time, he’s seeing it very well and he’s commanding the huddle. It’s something that a nine-, 10-year veteran would do. It’s showing his maturity and the ability that he has to play quarterback.”
A nine or 10-year vet?
That’s about as high as praise can get for a rookie quarterback, especially one who started just 23 games at FCS North Dakota State and who played in just one preseason game as a rookie. Despite the lack of experience, the coaching staff assured all listeners that Wentz was ready. Now, it looks like they were right.
Pederson clearly has full confidence in Wentz, as evidenced by the offense opening Monday’s game with an empty set and a no-huddle offense that relied heavily on Wentz’s making calls at the line of scrimmage. No problem.
Has Pederson ever been around a rookie like this?
“Not at the quarterback position,” Pederson said Tuesday after returning to Philadelphia. “I had Alex (Smith) in Kansas City. You know, seven-, eight-, nine-year guy at the time. He was that way. Of course, in Green Bay there were more veteran guys, but this is what I'm seeing out of Carson right now on the sideline. And he and I are dialoguing on the sideline. He's constantly with (offensive coordinator) Frank (Reich) and with the guys. He's constantly playing the game in his mind, and that's what's given him, I think, an edge when he goes back out on the field, just understanding situations.”
There are plenty of quarterback voices on the Eagles, even with Sam Bradford gone. The team still has Pederson and Reich and John DeFilippo and backup Chase Daniel, who many liken to an extra coach. And it seems like the rookie is fitting right in.
Pederson mentioned the sideline conversations with Wentz several times while talking about the rookie’s maturity.
What about those conversations reminds Pederson of a veteran?
“Yeah, number one, it's the fact that he's having them,” Pederson said. “You know, you don't see that all the time. And number two is the depth and just the actual game plan specific things that he's seeing out there on the field. What he's hearing out on the field and coming to us and recommending.
"He's asking me all the time, 'What are you thinking on the next series? What are you thinking on the next series?' So I give him two or three passes, a run or two in there. And things that we're seeing. At the same time, you know, I want to know what he's thinking because he's the one playing the game.”