Keeping the Lightning of Carson Wentz in a bottle could be Doug Pederson’s biggest challenge yet

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Eagles fans everywhere were delighted on Tuesday afternoon, for the most part that is. Before the linebacker losses began to tally up, Carson Wentz provided enough excitement to spark another parade in Philadelphia. Just months after tearing his ACL against the Rams, the NDSU product was seen and filmed working out in practice. He wasn’t doing anything miraculous, but his quickness and footwork during drills sparked plenty of positive discussion.

While this was all mesmerizing as fans were left bewildered as to how their quarterback is moving so smoothly, so soon, there is something worth noting here. Wentz is yet to be medically cleared to practice.

I don’t think this constitutes practicing, but any time you see a quarterback with a helmet on and a red jersey, it usually points toward a physical activity. Doug Pederson was asked about the progress made by Carson Wentz this offseason before phase 3 of OTA’s dropped the green flag.

“I think with any injury you feel like you might be on the outside looking in, but he’s not that type of guy.” The Super Bowl winning Head Coach explained. “He’s right in the mix. He’s in the quarterback room. He’s in the offensive room. He’s in my office. We’re talking, we’re still talking about plays and situations, so he’s very much involved, just not going through the actual practice at this time.”

There are two different ways of looking at this. As a quarterback and as a coach. From the eyes of Carson Wentz, it’s fully understandable why he’s so eager to get back out there. The former second overall pick put together an MVP level season before it was heartbreakingly ripped from him in week 14. From that moment on, he was forced to watch as Nick Foles pushed his team all the way to the Super Bowl and then went on to win it all. Sure, there’s the teammate part that was noted consistently as helping Foles and the offense throughout their playoff run, but it had to sting. That season belonged to Carson Wentz. That moment should have belonged to Carson Wentz. As a competitor in a room full of competitors, it HAD to sting. The hunger and the chip on his shoulder will be greater than ever and it doesn’t take much to see why Wentz wants to be out there with his teammates asap.

But then there’s the coaching perspective. This isn’t the first time that something like this has happened. In fact, it only took one preseason game in his rookie year for durability to become a factor. Since then, coaches have constantly had to answer questions about the aggressiveness of Carson Wentz and whether or not he should be sliding when rushing the ball or pushing for extra yards, exposing himself to hits. Ball security isn’t the problem here, but general health is and there were all too many times where Wentz, as heart-stopping as he is, should’ve tucked the ball and slid down out of harms way instead of putting himself at risk. But it doesn’t matter how many times it comes up, the response seems to be along the lines of  ‘we know, but it’s part of his game, it’s who he is.’

If you take that logic and now apply it to a quarterback who has not been medically cleared but is already working through non-contact drills, it’s concerning. How much impact does Doug Pederson have over the playing stile or overall mindset of Wentz? Of course, this could be all overblown. I’m no doctor and I don’t have any ‘exclusive’ insight into how his recovery is going or what he is and isn’t permitted to do.

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However, one wrong move, one misstep, one tiny error and Wentz could suffer a much more damaging injury along with re-rupturing his ACL. One mental mistake and it all comes crashing down. Just how tight is Pederson’s leash on Wentz? Because from an outside perspective, as amazing as that man is inside the locker room and the film room, when he’s on the field there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of reeling in those aggressive plays. If that carries over into this offseason when the pads go on, it could come back to haunt him.

“All that you’re seeing is part of his rehab.” Pederson told reporters earlier this week. “It’s part of his process of getting back to 100%. What you’re seeing is part of the process, and rehab process each day, and it changes each day based on what our medical staff and doctors want him to do. But with injuries like that, obviously not being cleared to participate in a practice setting right now, but at the same time, he can maintain that rehab conditioning part.”

Whether it’s part of his rehab or not, reeling in one of the most explosive quarterback’s in football will be no easy task and it hasn’t been thus far. But it could be the difference between an MVP season and no season at all.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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