Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson announced Monday that Carson Wentz has been medically cleared to play and will start in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Wentz is approximately nine months removed from sustaining a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee against the Los Angeles Rams.
“I think just watching him move around physically and some of the things he’s done, he’s ready and ready to take the reins again and move forward,” Pederson said.
Wentz gained clearance just before Pederson stepped behind the podium to meet with the media at noon ET.
“He’s excited,” Pederson said. “In his mind he was probably ready a month ago. Our plan was in place, he understood it, he embraced that, and now he is ready.”
Nick Foles will return to his role as the backup as Wentz prepares to be under center for the Eagles (1-1) in the Sunday’s game against the Colts (1-1).
Foles led the franchise to its only Super Bowl victory with a 41-33 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
“The greatest thing for me is that (quarterback) room has no egos, and Nick all along has understood that this is Carson’s football team,” Pederson said. “We drafted Carson to be the guy. We owe a lot of gratitude to Nick Foles for what he’s done, what he has done, what he’s done this season and how he’s led this football team. He’s a pro’s pro.”
This was Foles’ team after Wentz tore two ligaments in his left knee on Dec. 10. Wentz had surgery three days later.
Before the injury Wentz was a front-runner in the league’s MVP discussion and set a franchise record for most touchdowns in a single season with 33.
Pederson cautioned that Wentz may need some time to get used to various aspects of being in a live game once again.
“I think maybe there’ll be an issue or two,” Pederson said. “It will take some time to get back into the rhythm and the flow of game. The speed of the game is different than the speed at practice. So we do everything we can to try to simulate that during the week and try to prepare him that way. He’s a guy that will be totally prepared.
“He comes in early, studies the tape, as do all the quarterbacks, he stays, obviously, late in the day, asks a lot of questions, has a lot of ideas. He’s going to be prepared mentally, now it’s just a matter of the physical part taking over.”
Wentz will look to jumpstart an offense that has started games slowly, putting up just 10 points combined in the first half of the two games.
“He is not Superman,” Pederson said of Wentz. “It’s going to take all 10 other guys around him to get it done.
“Whenever you get one of your starters back, it’s great. I’m excited to get him back out there, but at the same time, it’s not about one guy and we can’t lose sight of that. We have other issues, offensively, defensively and special teams we need to clean up. As exciting as it is to have him back, your starting quarterback, we still have some other areas to fix.”
One thing that won’t change is how Pederson game plans for opponents with Wentz in order to prevent him from taking hits.
“Think about the game,” Pederson said of Sunday’s 27-21 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “How many times did Nick get hit? It’s part of the game. I’m not going to coach scared, I’m not going to coach paranoid, I’m not going to go into it thinking, ‘Oh no, we can’t do this, we can’t do that.’
“We just have to continue to go play. I have to coach that way. That’s where the confidence with the team comes. If there’s opportunities to max the protection and do some things there, we’ll do that by game plan, by design, but I don’t think things are going to change too much (with the play calling).”
Wentz is expected to meet with reporters on Wednesday.
–Wide receiver Mike Wallace sustained a fractured fibula in his right leg and will miss a few weeks, Pederson said Monday. Wallace, who signed a one-year deal in the offseason, isn’t expected to be placed on injured reserve right away.
“We’re still going to evaluate,” Pederson said. “(We will) have a few more tests in the next few days, but we know exactly it’s a fracture. That’s going to be a couple weeks.”
With Alshon Jeffery still being week-to-week after offseason shoulder surgery and Mack Hollins on injured reserve, the Eagles receiving group is thin. Nelson Agholor, Kamar Aiken, Shelton Gibson and DeAndre Carter remain on the roster.
Pederson said he will rely more on the tight ends and running game with his receiver corps undermanned. Of course, the Eagles could bolster that position with players such as Josh Gordon, Jordan Matthews, Dez Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Breshad Perriman available.
It didn’t sound like practice squad receiver Braxton Miller was in line for a promotion, with Pederson saying the coaches “still need to coach him up.”
The coach added: “If you ask me, a veteran player would be a lot easier to work with than a young rookie player to get him caught up, plus a guy who’s had game experience.”
–Left tackle Jason Peters tweaked a quad muscle on Sunday and played just eight snaps against Tampa Bay. Pederson said the 36-year-old Peters is day-to-day.