Sporting his red No. 11 practice jersey and trademark black sleeve on his right arm, Carson Wentz looks like he is set to regain command of the offense as the Eagles' first Organized Team Activity kicked off Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex.
It's at that moment when we, as fans, have to realize that Wentz is still rehabbing from the December knee injury that robbed him of the chance to be on the field as the Eagles won their first Super Bowl championship.
Wentz will be "involved in a handful of things," he said before practice. Head coach Doug Pederson reiterated that Wentz has not been cleared by the team's medical staff but will be on the field as part of his rehab assignment.
Before Wentz can lead Eagles to victories that will count in the standings this fall, he must capture small, daily triumphs behind the scenes in the training room.
"Every day it just gets a little better and a little more trust, little more faith in it," Wentz said of his knee. "At the same time, you've got to be smart. You've got to be smart with what the doctors are saying. I feel that I've made really good strides both mentally and physically. I like where I'm at."
The mental aspect will be critical - "just as important as the physical," he says - as Wentz used his athleticism to escape pressure and leave defenses tackling air during his historic 2017 campaign, one in which he set the franchise record for most touchdown passes in a season. He is currently wearing a left knee brace when he throws and is just starting to get comfortable with it although he doesn't want to "use it as a crutch." Wentz is unsure if he'll wear it during the season.
"I'm just learning how to trust it, trust your knee, trust your movement, all of those things," he said. "That comes. That comes over time."
Wentz hasn't reached out to other players who have come back from similar injury to learn what to expect. He doesn't want to compare his rehab to anyone else's. Wentz has returned from injury before - he missed eight games as a senior at North Dakota State with a wrist injury and then the final three preseason games of his rookie year due to fractured ribs - but certainly not one of this magnitude. Wentz has been in the training room with other veterans who rehabbed all offseason after missing the chance to play on the game's biggest stage. Wentz's comeback helps quell any concern about a post-Super Bowl hangover.
"There's an extra sense of motivation, a sense of not letting everyone be complacent," Wentz said. "On the flip side of that, I know the guys in that locker room, the character of that locker room where I don't expect it to be an issue regardless."
There's no public timeline for Wentz to be fully cleared by doctors. While he's "antsy" to be healthy and ready to roll, he knows he must continue to capture these small wins every day.