Carson Wentz is injured again.
This time, according to Doug Pederson, it’s a cranky back, which will keep the quarterback out of practice until they see some improvement.
Pederson wouldn’t speculate on when that might be, saying only that Wentz will continue to be monitored.
Wentz’s scheduled press conference for Wednesday afternoon has been canceled.
Pederson indicated that Wentz has been dealing with a sore back for at least part of this season. Wentz appeared on the injury report with back soreness for two straight weeks earlier this season. Obviously it was not enough to keep him from playing.
“Sometimes he just gets a little tight, a little sore,” Pederson said before practice. “So we’ll monitor him today and evaluate him after that.”
Not only is the timing of this announcement curious — just as the Eagles are preparing to head to Los Angeles, where Wentz wrecked his knee last December — but the announcement itself is.
For the first time since Pederson became coach, he started his press conference with injury updates, the way his mentor and former Eagles coach Andy Reid did for 14 years.
If Wentz is shut down for the year, it would mark the second straight season in which the Eagles turn to Nick Foles to start the last three games of the regular season.
The coach’s revelation has led to speculation that Wentz could be done until 2019.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that could well be the case.
Wentz has had an odd season in which he looks nothing like the MVP candidate he appeared to be before his injury last December.
His completion percentage (69.6) and yards-per-attempt (7.7) are career highs, yet he and the offense have struggled almost all season to put points on the board and his accuracy and decision-making in crucial moments has been suspect.
Wentz is 5-6 as a starter after being cleared to go for the first time in Week 3.
Either way, the Eagles will be in Los Angeles on Sunday night to face the Rams.
“I think a player that goes back to the scene of the crime, I guess, there could probably be a little angst, a little anxiety,” Pederson said. “But obviously we won this game last year as a team. All three phases were exceptional and they really rallied around him last year at this time. And we ended up winning that football game.”
Pederson remembered the whole L.A. experience last year as bittersweet because they won the game to clinch the division but lost Wentz for the season.
“Still hadn’t really received the full report on Carson at the time last year,” he said. “Guys were excited because we just won the NFC East and a playoff spot and all that. So the hats were flying around, T-shirts and all that stuff.
“And then for me, you’re excited for the team, but at the same time you’re thinking about the next week and how I am going to keep the guys motivated and pushing forward. So, yeah, it was a little bit bittersweet.”
Wentz this season has completed 279 of 401 pass attempts for 3,074 yards and 21 TDs against seven interceptions. His completion percentage (69.6) and yards per attempt (7.7) are career highs, but with 31 sacks he’s on pace for a career high (33 in 16 games in 2016) in that department as well.
He’s also running far less this year (34 carries, 93 yards) than he did last year (64 carries, 299 yards), and with not nearly the same effectiveness (career-low 2.7 yards per carry, opposed to career-best 4.7 a year ago).
Foles was given a lucrative contract adjustment after leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl last season. He is actually signed through next season. But with a base salary of $20 million (none guaranteed) due then, they are expected to opt out after this season, which would allow him to become a free agent.
Wentz is still playing on his rookie deal, signed after being taken with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He’s not eligible for an extension until after this season.
Because he likely will command a long-term contract worth as much as $30 million per year (with most or all guaranteed), it easily shapes up to be the most important and also probably the most complicated negotiation in franchise history.
Most of the complications arise from Wentz’s extensive injury history.
As a senior at North Dakota State in 2015, he missed eight games with a broken bone in his wrist.
In his rookie season with the Eagles, he missed the rest of the preseason after fracturing a rib in his first preseason game.
Last December, he suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee that required surgery. He didn’t play in a game again until Week 3 of this season.
Now he’s dealing with a back injury that he’s had for at least half the season.
Wentz will turn 26 this month. Foles will turn 30 in January.