Carson Wentz will return to the practice field on Wednesday for reps with the first-team offense. On Sunday, Eagles fans and teammates will see him in a live game for the first time in more than nine months.
It's been a long time coming. But for Wentz's teammates, they are not building up the return, choosing instead to focus on taking care of business and making the transition as smooth as possible.
"All he has to do is just be Carson Wentz," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "You don't have to be Superman. You don't have to go out of the way to make plays, just do what you do. Don't overcomplicate it. He just needs to be him. He's super-talented, super-humble, and works hard man, so he'll be fine."
Johnson emphasized the need to keep the pressure off Wentz in the first game, both physically and mentally. The goal for the offensive line will be to diminish the pass rush as much as possible and open holes for the running game to lessen Wentz's need to throw.
Johnson said Wentz doesn't have to be Superman. However, Wentz should give the offense a bit of a lift with what he has shown on the field.
"He looks stronger than maybe he even was last year," Johnson said. "You saw all the work he did in the weight room with rehab and stuff. His arm may be stronger than it was last year from what I've seen. Mobility-wise, he's running around and looking good, so I'm excited. Just need to protect him and good things will happen.
"I think he's going to hit the ground running," he added.
One possible concern for the offense as Wentz returns is the rust he may feel as he gets into a full-speed NFL environment. The offense has primarily played with Nick Foles at quarterback and Wentz did not get any action during the preseason.
But wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who caught seven touchdowns last season from Wentz, said that he and Foles worked as a unit. He expects the transition to be smooth.
"This is the Philadelphia Eagles, so the mood is always going to be when you come into this building, you come in hungry and excited," Agholor said. "Carson's been in this building whether he was playing or not. And Nick, as our quarterback, gave me opportunities every time we were out there and he's someone I love to prepare for a game with, same as with Carson."
Center Jason Kelce reiterated this thought, adding that Wentz has prepared each week since his injury as if he were the starting quarterback that week. He doesn't expect any issues with gameplanning or physical abilities.
"I think he's had a lot of reps, a lot of things done with the team," Kelce said. "I think obviously the biggest thing is, getting those first couple hits out of the way is going to be a big part of that first game. So hopefully we can keep things as clean as possible in front, make life as easy as we can. He's a special player and a special leader, so we're excited."
Wentz's return doesn't just give a lift to an offense that had troubles in Tampa Bay. Cornerback Jalen Mills said Wentz is the leader of the whole team and everyone is happy to have him back. But he noted Wentz's return comes with responsibility for the defense.
Mills said Wentz can't be expected to make every throw and he can't be put into tough situations. The key for the defense is to make sure he is not playing from behind and that he has time to get comfortable on the field.
"We have to. Because at the end of the day, he is coming back from injury," Mills said. "We have to try to at least put him on the field as much as possible, so he can get as many reads as he can throughout the game."
Each player on the team knows the responsibility that comes with Wentz's return. But at the same time, when Wentz's name is announced at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday and he comes sprinting out of the tunnel in pads for a home game for the first time since November of last year, it will surely be an electric atmosphere for teammates and fans alike.
"I'm excited to see him back. I'm excited for him. The road to recovery from an injury is a challenging one," said Kelce, who missed almost all of 2012 with a knee injury. "Obviously, he missed out on an incredible end of the season last year, so he's chomping at the bit and ready to get out there. That's the competitor that guy is and I'm happy for him.
"I think the Linc is always jumping around so I don't know how much more amped up they can get than they already are."
That sounds like a challenge, Eagles fans. See you on Sunday.