Philadelphia Eagles

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."

Source: Paul Turner out for another three weeks with fractured scapula

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Source: Paul Turner out for another three weeks with fractured scapula

Eagles receiver Paul Turner, who has been missing from Eagles practice since Aug. 2 with a shoulder injury, will be out for another three weeks. 

Turner's injury is more serious than previously thought. He actually has a fractured scapula, a league source told CSNPhilly.com. 

Turner, 24, initially made the Eagles' roster out of training camp last year but was cut when the team claimed Bryce Treggs off waivers. He then spent the first 10 games on the practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster. He ended up catching nine passes for 126 yards in four games as a rookie. 

During last year's training camp, Turner instantly became a fan favorite as a rookie out of Louisiana Tech. He shined in practices and then was the NFL's leading receiver last preseason with 17 catches that went for 165 yards. And he also had a tremendous one-handed grab. 

With another three weeks added to his recovery time, making this year's roster will be incredibly hard for Turner, who is buried on the depth chart. Three weeks will bring us right to the start of the regular season. 

Other players have been making a push for the final roster spot at receiver. Marcus Johnson, in particular, has shined this summer. 

The rise of Steven Means and his sack celebration of many names

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The rise of Steven Means and his sack celebration of many names

Some of Steven Means' teammates call his sack celebration The Hammer. Some say it's The Nail In the Coffin. Assistant defensive line coach Phillip Daniels calls it The Undertaker.

Means says he likes them all. 

"The Atomic Bomb," interjected fellow defensive lineman Destiny Vaeao, who was listening in from the next locker. "Because when it hits …" 

That might be the new leader in the clubhouse. 

Whatever it's called though, Means has been doing the emphatic celebration much more often in recent weeks. That's a good sign for the 27-year-old and his chances to make the Eagles' 53-man roster. 

In the Eagles' preseason opener, Means had a half sack. Last Thursday against his hometown Buffalo Bills, Means picked up two more.

And after each sack in games and in practice (yes, he does it in non-contact practices too), Means celebrates with what has become his hallmark. He first points both fingers toward the sky, "giving God the glory," before it looks like a surge of pure energy flows through his body, starting with his toes until he releases it with a leg kick and one swift downward chopping motion with his hands. 

Means started doing the celebration during OTAs last season. It wasn't something he planned — "It just happened," he said. But he liked it and has continued it since, including last season in the fourth quarter against the Vikings, when he picked up his first-career regular season sack. 

"I don't know," Means said smiling. "I'm just out there having fun, just trying to make plays. And keep doing [the celebration]. If I'm doing it, I know I'm doing the right thing." 

This training camp, Means is a part of an extremely deep group of defensive ends. Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry are the starters. Chris Long and Derek Barnett and next up. And then there's Means and last year's seventh-round pick Alex McCalister. There seems to be a chance that just one between Means and McCalister will make this year's team. 

Even though they're competing for a roster spot, Means doesn't really think about his fellow defensive ends as competition. His brain just doesn't work like that anymore. His only competition is the offensive linemen he faces during games. 

So when McCalister picked up a sack of his own Thursday night, Means looked even more pumped about it than he did. 

"Seeing us come from where we come from and being successful at this level, I'm ecstatic for anybody when they're out there making plays," Means said. "And if I'm out there with them, I'm probably going to be more excited than them every single time."

When the time comes for the coaching staff to decide on the 53-man roster, Means will have at least one advantage. During this training camp, he's worked at defensive end and has also taken some reps at defensive tackle. DT is a new position for Means but he's excited about adding some versatility to his résumé.  

"One of the big things we've done with Steven, obviously, he's gotten a few more opportunities," defensive line coach Chris Wilson said. "And he's taking full advantage of it. That's one thing he does consistently. He's physical, he's smart, he plays with a great motor. He's always in position to make plays and when he's had opportunities in the game."

Since entering the league as a fifth round draft pick of the Buccaneers in 2013, Means has become somewhat of a journeyman in the NFL. He was with the Bucs, Ravens and Texans before joining the Eagles in December 2015. 

When he signed with the Eagles, he joined a coaching staff with Chip Kelly and Billy Davis that was on its last legs. Kelly was fired three weeks after Means got to Philadelphia and Davis was let go after the season. 

Then something great happened for Means. New head coach Doug Pederson brought on Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator and Means got a chance to play in an incredibly aggressive defense that allows defensive linemen to attack quarterbacks. 

"I'm just going to be 100 percent honest with you," Means said, "I wouldn't rather be anywhere else. Wherever Schwartz is, that's where I want to be."

Now entering his fifth NFL season, Means laughs thinking about how far he's come and about "how bad [he] probably was" as a rookie. Means finally looks like he's found a good spot in Philly. 

He's taken over the fourth quarters of both preseason games. In these two games, he has 2 1/2 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, 2 passes defensed, 2 tackles for loss and 4 combined tackles. 

Means has been filling up the stat sheet and turning heads along the way. 

"Letting God just play through me instead of trying to make something happen myself," said Means, who is vocal about his faith. "I'm a lot more comfortable and confident."

It shows every time he gets a sack and The Atomic Bomb hits.