Wentz: ‘Whenever my number is called, I’ll be ready’
PHILADELPHIA -- Summer vacation did not change Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson's plans at quarterback. Sam Bradford is still atop the depth chart, and Carson Wentz is still expected to be inactive for the season opener and potentiall...
PHILADELPHIA - Summer vacation did not change Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson’s plans at quarterback. Sam Bradford is still atop the depth chart, and Carson Wentz is still expected to be inactive for the season opener and potentially through the season.
Both quarterbacks were on the field Monday for the Eagles’ first day of training camp practice, and it started a 48-day march to prepare Bradford for the season opener while developing Wentz as the future franchise quarterback.
“Going into September 11th, you know, Sam’s the guy,” Pederson said. “Sam’s the guy, and I’ll stick to that as we go. Chase [Daniel] is the No. 2, and Carson is No. 3. . . . We don’t know it will be his entire rookie year (that Wentz is inactive). We can’t speculate that far out. But going into the season, there is a good chance it starts that way.”
When asked about Pederson’s plan, Wentz said: “It’s totally out of my control.” The North Dakota State and Bismarck Century graduate wanted to focus more on what is required of him in training camp to improve, but he said that he “can guarantee whenever my number is called, I’ll be ready.”
There was no griping from Wentz on the first day of camp, and everything is sunny in Philadelphia when listening to Wentz speak. He wants to “get better,” “keep getting smarter” and is trying to “explore the offense.” His brief time in the region has shown him that “everywhere you go, everyone knows what’s going on in Eagles football,” a quality he might like now but can be more trying if interceptions outnumber touchdowns.
To avoid such a scenario, Pederson has Wentz focusing on “the little things.” The coach praised Wentz’s energy and work ethic. “You just love everything about this kid,” he said. But there are nuances of playing the position that remain an emphasis during camp.
“Detailed things in his footwork, his drop, the progressions and where his eyes are,” Pederson said. “Those are the things in the National Football League from a quarterback standpoint that really become very important on a game day. And those are the things that we’ve got to continue to work with him on throughout camp.”
Pederson is committed to assuring Wentz a heavy workload this summer, trying to get Wentz “starter-ready” in case anything besets the quarterbacks ahead of him. Pederson has not finalized how snaps will be distributed during training camp, but he hinted that Wentz and Daniel will get more early in camp because the second-team and third-team offense take a lot of the work in the first two games. When the season gets closer, the Eagles will allocate more snaps to the players expecting to start, such as Bradford.
Bradford was pleased with his health on the first day of camp, calling it “night and day” compared to last summer and noting that he’s added about five pounds from one year ago. He is now in his fifth offense, but Bradford doesn’t know how long it will take to master the system. He said as helpful as practices are for learning, games are when he’ll realize the command he’s developed. He wants to focus on honing the communication with center Jason Kelce because they will share a lot of responsibility at the line of scrimmage.
He can also exert his leadership this season after a full year in the locker room and now that the team has re-embraced huddling. Bradford said the huddle allows the quarterback to take control, and it’s in those settings where his leadership is best exhibited.
“I think you guys expect a big rah-rah. . . . That’s just not me,” Bradford said. “There are a lot of subtle things you aren’t privy to or can’t hear.”
Bradford continues to develop a relationship with Wentz. The two were together with other teammates in San Diego for a week during the summer and had a chance to spend time away from football.
“He’s a good dude,” Bradford said. “We went paddle boarding one day. It was a lot of fun. I guess him being up from north, he was used to the cold water. I wasn’t a big fan of the Pacific Ocean.”
Even without any problems at the position, Pederson recognized that nurturing and reassurances are required from the coaching staff. It comes along with the experiment of keeping Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick, in the third spot on the depth chart and paying big money to Bradford, a starter who knows his days with the team are limited.
“We laid out a plan back in the offseason, and our plan was we were going to have to massage this a little bit, and we were going to have to make sure that all three guys understood their roles,” Pederson said. “Carson fully understands where he’s at, and he knows he’s got to get better. I mean, he knows he’s not there yet. It’s going to be a slow process, but we don’t have much time.”
Berman is a the Philadelphia Eagles beat reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer .