Carson Wentz was on the fields at the NovaCare Complex wearing a helmet and ready to practice on Monday for the first time since fracturing his ribs on Aug. 11 against the Bucs.
He’s getting better. Just not quickly enough.
Despite being back at practice Monday afternoon, Wentz will not play in the Eagles’ preseason finale against the Jets on Thursday night. The original hope was that the No. 2 overall pick would be ready for the fourth preseason game.
“That’s a no-go for this week, but I’ll be ready for Week 1,” Wentz said.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said a CT scan on Wentz’s ribs showed one was completely healed, while the other was just 60 percent healed (see story).
Wentz said he expects to be fully healed by Sept. 11, when the Eagles open the season against the Cleveland Browns. But by then, he will have missed three of his four opportunities to play in the preseason. And, as the third-stringer, he won’t even be active on game days.
“It’s tough,” Wentz said. “With all injuries, it’s tough not being on the field, especially as a competitor coming in here, these preseason games were going to be big for me. It’s tough, it’s frustrating, but it just kind of is what it is.”
In his only game this preseason, Wentz went 12 for 24 for 89 yards and an interception. He also ran three times for 15 yards. During that game, he showed flashes of why the Eagles were so high on him, but it was just a taste.
After Thursday night, he will have spent the rest of the preseason as a spectator during games, taking mental reps instead of real ones.
Mental reps help, certainly. Wentz stands on the sideline and mentally inserts himself into the play. What would he do here? What would his read be there? What would he do with a certain protection?
“You’re really just trying to be locked in like you were the guy in the game,” he said.
Mental reps are great. But they don’t replace the real ones. Nothing does.
So while Wentz has been working to get better since going down with the ribs injury earlier this month, he’s lost valuable practice and game reps that he won’t get back. Pederson said once the season starts, the team can’t help him make them up because it will be too focused on getting the starters ready to play.
“You have to make the most of every opportunity you have in practice,” Wentz said. “I feel confident with where I am. Obviously, I missed the couple preseason games. I know when my number gets called, I’ll be ready.”
Pederson on Monday said he was less concerned about Wentz because Wentz is the third-string quarterback behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. That was the plan before Wentz’s injury. Then the injury cemented that plan.
Does Wentz have any hope that he’ll play during his rookie season?
“I’ll be ready to go,” he said. “It’s not up for me to decide. We’ve been talking about this forever now. I know I’ll be ready to go and I’m excited for when I’m back out there. Practicing today, I’m excited for that too.”