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Eagles' head coach excited to see what Wentz can do in first preseason game

PHILADELPHIA--Doug Pederson remembers his first NFL preseason game, as a rookie quarterback. "It was late in the fourth quarter, and I knelt down three times. Three knees, in Miami," Pederson recalled recently. "Dan Marino, Scott Secules and Scot...

Carson Wentz will play in his first professional football game Thursday, Aug. 11, in a preseason game for the Philadelphia Eagles. DAVID MAIALETTI / Philadelphia Inquirer
Eagles' Carson Wentz, right, throws as the Philadelphia Eagles open rookie camp at the NovaCare Complex on Friday, May 13, 2016 in Philadelphia, PA. DAVID MAIALETTI / Philadelphia Daily News

PHILADELPHIA-Doug Pederson remembers his first NFL preseason game, as a rookie quarterback.

"It was late in the fourth quarter, and I knelt down three times. Three knees, in Miami," Pederson recalled recently. "Dan Marino, Scott Secules and Scott Mitchell were the three" quarterbacks ahead of Pederson on the depth chart that 1991 training camp, he said. Mitchell was the up-and-coming QB who got most of the work that night.

Pederson, then an undrafted rookie from northeast Louisiana, wasn't facing great expectations. Were his parents watching?

"Heck, no. It was too late. They were in bed."

Pederson's first preseason game as an NFL coach, Thursday night, Aug. 18, at Lincoln Financial Field against Tampa Bay, ought to produce more memories, for Pederson and for his rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz-the Bismarck (N.D.) Century High School and North Dakota State standout.

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Wentz, the second player chosen in the NFL Draft, is scheduled to play the second half. These preseason games will be critical to Wentz's development, given that, for now, the coaching staff's plan is to keep him on the sideline in the regular season. Pederson seems eager, though, to give the home crowd a sense of why the Eagles expended resources to trade up and draft Wentz.

"He's very comfortable where he's at. He's getting better every day... I've seen a lot of young quarterbacks that come in and struggle mentally, with the terminology and just the overall volume of offense that we have in at this time, but I haven't seen that from him at all," Pederson said. "We haven't had any communication breakdowns in the huddle with him. Very pleased with where he's at, mentally. Now it's just a matter of continuing to detail his work, and fine-tune some of the mechanics."

Asked what he will look for from Wentz as the rookie makes the jump from NDSU to the NFL, Pederson said: "The biggest thing is just his decision-making. The timing of throws, the accuracy of throws. How well he, in turn, manages the offense, how well they move. And basically, allowing him to just have fun and cut it loose. He's such a mobile guy that when he can scramble and get on the perimeter, he has the ability to make some tremendous throws, and accurate throws out of the pocket."

Pederson will script some plays for Wentz and for all the QBs, he said. He plans to call plays himself, and to talk to his quarterbacks directly through their headsets. It will be interesting to see whether Pederson sticks with this plan long term or decides he needs more of an overview, and delegates more to offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who also will be on the sideline Thursday, Pederson said.

"Offensively, from a speed standpoint of calling the plays directly to the quarterback from myself, that is probably the biggest issue," Pederson said. "And then it just keeps you so in tune to the game. You're focused not only offensively, but when the defense is back out there you are looking at how your players are playing. You're kind of that quarterback on the sideline. Being in that position for so many years has led me to be in this position on game day."

Pederson said last month he didn't sleep the night before training camp opened.

"I'm gettin' that way right now," he said Tuesday. "Just kinda keyed up for it.... It might be a restless night (Wednesday)."

Related Topics: CARSON WENTZ
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