VIDEO: Eagles TE Dallas Goedert talks about Carson Wentz’s recovery.
On Thursday, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz said being able to go against a live rush with pads in practice would be “the next step” in his comeback from December knee surgery.
Neither he nor coach Doug Pederson offered any guess when that might be.
Today, on just the third day of training camp, everyone had their answer. Wentz went without restriction in full pads. With bodies flying and falling all around him, he scrambled when necessary and stood tall when he had to on his way to a productive day, mostly with the first team, that had every observer abuzz.
Though nobody knows what this portends for the preseason, it’s the latest and strongest sign that he’ll be ready to start the team’s season opener against Atlanta on Sept. 6.
Wentz will not be made available for comment until Tuesday, but his teammates offered some reactions.
“The guy looks phenomenal,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “You couldn’t tell me he had knee surgery seven-and-a-half months ago or whenever it was. But he’s been giving everything he can to be back Sept. 6. That’s always been the goal.
“… Obviously there’s a lot of things that are going to play into that, not only with him, but the medical staff, Doug. The good news for us is that we have a quote-unquote backup quarterback [Nick Foles] being the Super Bowl MVP.”
Rookie tight end Dallas Goedert, who played against Wentz in college, had the same reaction.
“It doesn’t really surprise me,” he said. “He’s a real tough dude. I saw him in college and he tore us up. But it’s the same thing. He wants to play and he loves football, so anytime he can be out there, I think he’s going to.
“I think it’s really positive that he’s out there during team, but at the same time they’re going to be safe with him and have what’s in his best interests in mind.”
Wentz tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in December in a win over the Los Angeles Rams. He stated shortly after his surgery that he believed he'd be ready to answer the bell for the start of the season.
Saturday’s development left little doubt that, barring a major setback, he is on or ahead of schedule.
With the lines going at full contact, Wentz was put in harm’s way a number of times, even though he is not to be touched intentionally. Many times, the pocket wasn’t clean, which either forced him to move out of it or get rid of the ball quicker than he wanted — sometimes with 300-pound bodies hitting the deck right in front of him.
Though Wentz wasn't particularly sharp in being picked off twice (by Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod), he never appeared skittish and moved well when flushed from the pocket.
In his final 11-on-11 series, he went 5-for-5, hitting running backs four times for short gains and wide receiver Shelton Gibson on a deep ball.
“I thought he did a nice job operating in there,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “He looks really comfortable just settling right back into his saddle. So really pleased with where he is right now.”
As for the danger in the contact going on all around him, Groh said: “That’s just part of the game. Obviously we get worried any time anybody hits the ground or takes a hit. We had [WR] Mike Wallace take a hit yesterday and go to the ground, so any time those things happen, there's cause for concern. But that is part of the game.”
So is guessing when we’ll first see Wentz in a game without a red jersey.
Even Pederson is playing. He interrupted Groh’s post-practice press conference to playfully ask about a timetable for Wentz.