Carson Wentz not ready for season to end, but excited for Eagles' future

Carson Wentz not ready for season to end, but excited for Eagles' future

Carson Wentz wrapped up his first NFL season on Sunday with a win over the Cowboys and a feather in his cap (see Instant Replay). He had just set an NFL rookie record with 379 completions.

Yet making history and winning a meaningless Week 17 game weren't enough to appease Wentz (see breakdown of Wentz's day vs. Cowboys). The Eagles' season is over, and far sooner than anybody hoped or would've liked.

"It's cool," Wentz said of making history, "but at the end of the day, we were still 7-9 and we're going home, so that's really all that matters."

Wentz was still on the the fact that he wouldn't be playing in his first NFL playoff game next week, but it wasn't all doom and gloom (see Roob's 10 observations from the loss). The 24-year-old was already focusing on the future, even before he took the field one final time as a rookie.

"Ultimately, we wanted to be playing still in January," Wentz said. "Looking back now that it's over... we're just building something special. We truly believe that in that locker room.

"The guys that will be here next year, I kept saying it to all the guys that I saw, 'It's time to go.' It'll be time to go when we all come back, so I'm excited for the future."

Less than an hour after closing the book on the 2016 campaign, Wentz hadn't really been afforded an opportunity to step back and appreciate everything he accomplished. Between his senior season at North Dakota State, a seemingly endless slew of pre-draft workouts and interviews, then jumping right into his first NFL camp with the Eagles, he essentially hasn't had a break from football in over a year.

And this break is one Wentz doesn't seem quite ready for.

"It's been non-stop for a long time, both mentally and physically," Wentz said. "I haven't had a lot of time to truly reflect on what's all happened this season, so it will be big for me for peace of mind to just get away. Obviously, we still wish we were playing, but that's not the case right now."

So here's a reminder. Wentz completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns. He guided the Eagles to seven wins, as many as they had a season ago under veteran quarterback Sam Bradford, and Wentz did so with a depleted supporting cast on offense.

Perhaps most important of all, Wentz became the first Eagles quarterback to start all 16 games regular-season games since Donovan McNabb in 2009, taking nearly every snap along the way.

"Physically, I'm very blessed," Wentz said. "I'm very fortunate that I am healthy and made it through the whole year that way. My arm feels good. Probably threw about as much this year as I threw in college my whole career, which is kind of crazy, but I'm very thankful that I'm healthy."

Wentz didn't merely survive his rookie season. He gained valuable experience, and at times, even excelled.

"His progression from the start of the year to today is night and day," said Eagles coach Doug Pederson.

"He's really seeing the field. He's surveying the field. He's using his legs. He's a gifted runner. He knows where everybody is going to be. He's got great dialogue and communication on the sideline, on the football field. His leadership ability.

"He's an exciting player to watch and coach, and it's a pleasure having him this year. In his rookie season, to do the things he's done is just amazing, and really looking forward to the offseason and building for next year."

Now that he'll have some time off, Wentz says he plans to get more acclimated to the area, maybe take in a Sixers or Phillies game this offseason. A little time away and a chance to get settled can only add to the comfort level with the Eagles.

But there's no doubt football will never be too far from Wentz's mind, and it won't be long before he's getting the itch to get back to work with his teammates.

"It's a kids' game that they're paying us way too much to play," Wentz said. "It's a beautiful thing. I've always loved the game and I'm just very fortunate, that's for sure."

Wentz wasn't ready for this season to end, but at the same time, he sounds genuinely excited about the next chapter. This year didn't go exactly as planned, with the Eagles missing the playoffs for a third straight year. There were ups and downs, and the rookie signal-caller was far from perfect.

Considering where Wentz came from, suddenly being elevated to starting quarterback after an abbreviated preseason, having just come to the NFL from a Division I-AA program, it was a pretty special beginning. 

"This whole season, I learned a ton," Wentz said. "I learned a ton about different guys, about myself, about the game, and going into the offseason, it's full speed ahead. It's not taking reps with the threes and trying to learn a new playbook. It's we're all in this together."

"We've had a full season under our belt, so it'll be a fun offseason."

NFL Notes: Patriots reach deal with former Jets LB David Harris

NFL Notes: Patriots reach deal with former Jets LB David Harris

BOSTON -- A person familiar with the situation says the New England Patriots have agreed to terms on a deal with former New York Jets linebacker David Harris.

The new two-year pact could be worth as much as $6.75 million, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the deal has not yet been announced.

Harris, a 2007 second-round pick from Michigan who has spent all 10 of his NFL seasons in New York, was released earlier this month by the Jets in a series of offseason moves to cut high-priced veterans. He was the franchise's second-leading tackler.

He now moves within the division to play for Bill Belichick, who has lauded Harris' play in the past. It also gives the Patriots some veteran depth to pair with Dont'a Hightower.

Jaguars: Rhaney claimed off waivers
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have claimed offensive lineman Demetrius Rhaney off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams.

The Jaguars announced the move Wednesday and said they released rookie offensive lineman Parker Collins to make room on the roster for Rhaney.

The 6-foot-2, 301-pound Rhaney was a seventh-round draft pick out of Tennessee State by the Rams in 2014. He spent his first season on injured reserve but played in every regular-season game the past two seasons, starting once at left guard in 2015.

Packers: Guion arrested on suspicion of DUI
HONOLULU -- Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Letroy Guion has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant in Hawaii.

Honolulu police booking records show Guion was arrested early Wednesday in Waikiki. He was released after posting $500 bail.

Packers spokesman Aaron Popkey says in a statement that the team is aware and will refrain from making further comment because it's a legal matter. He says he doesn't know what Guion was doing in Waikiki.

Guion was suspended without pay by the NFL for the first four games of the 2017 season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

He started 15 games last season, making 30 tackles. The nine-year veteran agreed to a three-year deal worth $11.25 million in February 2016.

NFL: Former player Ryan Jones shot dead
RENO, Nev. -- Nevada authorities say former NFL linebacker Ryan Jones was shot dead over the weekend in a Reno apartment and two other people suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds.

Reno Police Department spokesman Officer Tim Broadway declined comment Tuesday on the circumstances that led to Sunday's shooting because detectives were still interviewing people for their investigation.

Jones, 26, signed a free-agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens in 2014 and had a stint with the New York Giants before becoming a mixed martial arts fighter.

He was the first Montana Tech football player in the college's history to sign an NFL contract.

Jones graduated from Hug High School in Nevada before attending Sierra College and then Montana Tech in 2011.

Eagles LBs coach thinks there's more ceiling for Jordan Hicks

Eagles LBs coach thinks there's more ceiling for Jordan Hicks

Jordan Hicks is a good middle linebacker. 

After his first two seasons in the NFL, the former third-round pick has piled up some eye-popping numbers. 

In his first 24 games in the league (his rookie season was cut short with a pec injury), he has seven interceptions, 14 passes defensed, four fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and two sacks. 

He's just the fifth player in NFL history — and only linebacker — to have that many INTs, fumble recoveries and forced fumbles in the first two years of his career. 

Hicks, who turns 25 later this month, is already really good. The next step is to become great. 

Is there room for more growth? 

"I would hope so," Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole said last week. "We're all emotionally tied in with our guys. I think he's done a great job for us. Is there room for improvement? No question. But he works at it. It's important to him. I know it's important for him that he puts the team success above himself. 

"I would suspect that there's more ceiling for him at linebacker. And I expect him to work at those things." 

Hicks actually had a chance to work on some of those things this offseason. As he exited last year, it was clear Hicks possessed ball-hawk traits, but admittedly needed to get better against the run. 

After his first NFL season, Hicks was stuck recovering from his torn pectoral and subsequent surgery. The rehab didn't allow him to strength train as much as he would have liked. 

This year, it's been a different story. He's hit the weight room hard, put on some extra weight, and hasn't been hamstrung by a tedious rehab process. 

"It's been great, man," Hicks said. "Having a full offseason to get in rhythm, having a full offseason to lift and get stronger and not have to take a step back to rehab and do everything over again, it's huge. Huge. To just build and stack and stack on top of each other."

Flajole agrees with Hicks, that the extra time in the weight room will help him against the run, specifically at the point of attack.  

Flajole isn't the only person in the NovaCare Complex who thinks big things are still ahead for Hicks. After the season finale against the Cowboys last season, Malcolm Jenkins said he thought Hicks is "trending to be one of the better linebackers in this league."

While Hicks wants to improve his run defense, it's undeniable that the strength of his game — to this point — is his knack for being around the ball. He always seems to be making a big play, whether it's an interception or a fumble recovery. 

It might seem like chance, but Flajole doesn't discount it as such. 

"He's a very instinctual guy and I think he understands the game," Flajole said. "The thing that can't be discounted for Jordan is that he works at it. He watches a lot of tape and because of those things, he feeds off of tendencies that the offense would give him, either by down and distance or formation. And he uses those to his advantage." 

For the second straight year, Hicks will be in the same defense under Jim Schwartz and will have the same battery mate in Nigel Bradham, who enters the second year of his two-year deal. 

At some point before the 2017 season starts, Hicks will set some personal goals for himself, like he does every year. While he hasn't set them yet, Hicks said they are normally leadership-based or stat-based. 

"It definitely gives you something to reach for and keep you on track," Hicks said. "Just like you set team goals. If you're not setting goals, you're just working towards nothing, just shooting in the air at nothing." 

One thing the goals won't be is accolade-based. Sure, Hicks would like to be named to his first Pro Bowl, but that won't be on the checklist. 

If he gets better than he's been in Year 1 and 2, it'll only be a matter of time before the recognition catches up with his stats. 

"I'm not really worried about the accolades at this point," he said. "It's not really what I'm focused on. I believe that if you're doing what you need to do, day in and day out, you're giving it everything you got, the rest will come. I'm focused on what I can do for this team, what I can do to make this team the best it can be. And let the rest fall in place."