Head coach Doug Pederson made it crystal clear on Tuesday following the Eagles' first Organized Team Activity session that quarterback Sam Bradford is and will be the starting quarterback this season, even after the team used the No. 2 overall pick on Carson Wentz.
"Sam's still the starter," Pederson said. "Carson has a long way to go with this system. He's learning every day, but Sam's the guy.
"I expect Sam not to look over his shoulder. I expect Sam to look forward. He is getting ready for the season. He is getting ready for Cleveland (in the season opener). That's what I expect from Sam."
Pederson was asked if there was a scenario where Wentz could play as a rookie.
"That's hard to say when I've got Chase Daniel sitting there," Pederson replied in a reference to the veteran who was signed by the Eagles in free agency.
Bradford left the team's voluntary offseason program for two weeks after the team notified him that the team was going to trade up and select a quarterback. Bradford, who was acquired in a trade with the Rams in 2015 and signed to a two-year contract this offseason, returned last Monday. Pederson understood Bradford's perspective, having once been the starting quarterback for a team that used the No. 2 overall pick on someone at the same position which was with the Eagles in 1999 when Donovan McNabb was drafted.
On Darren Sproles' Absence
Aside from the quarterback situation, another one of the headlining stories of the first OTA practice on Tuesday was the absence of running back Darren Sproles. According to Pederson, the absence was expected since Sproles has yet to report to Philadelphia for any of the voluntary offseason workouts. Pederson also expressed that he doesn't expect Sproles' absence to last much longer.
"He has not been here, but he and I have been in direct communication," Pederson explained. "We've been talking all offseason and I have no issues with Darren. I fully expect him to be here for the mandatory camp, but again this is a voluntary program so I can't fault him for not being here."
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday that the Eagles received calls from other teams during the draft interested in acquiring the Pro Bowl running back/return specialist.
"We had no decisions to (try to trade him) whatsoever. I want Darren on this football team. We want Darren on this football team and he's a big part of this football team, and that's where we're at."
As for the reasoning behind the situation, Pederson explained that Sproles is simply taking some time to be with his family before the true grind of the NFL season begins. Sproles' family lives on the West Coast.
"I think where he is in his career is - I've been there before too - where sometimes you just want that break," Pederson said. "I know with him and his family, they're apart during the season, so this is a chance for him to spend quality time with the family and he knows what it takes to get himself ready to go. I fully expect him to be here in a couple of weeks."
Coach Pederson also took some time to update the Eagles' injury front, as a few players were not on the field for all of Tuesday's practice.
- Nolan Carroll
"Nolan Carroll was out there," Pederson said. "He actually went through individual and install and then we took him in for a normal procedure just to keep him rehabbing and keeping the conditioning going."
Carroll is recovering from the fractured ankle that ended his 2015 season.
- Cody Parkey
"Just part of the process, part of the maintenance," Pederson explained. "Obviously, you saw during special teams periods that we were working the punts and things like that, but it's part of his rehab and this is really not the time to go full-go on that. We'll probably wait down the line, probably into training camp."
Parkey is rehabbing from the groin injury that placed him on Injured Reserve last season.
- Jordan Hicks
"Jordan has a little tightness right now, so it's a maintenance thing," said Pederson. "Nothing severe with him it all. It's precautionary more than anything, and I actually told Jordan, 'Listen, this is not the time for you to test this. Let's make sure you're ready to go.'"
Hicks' injury is a leg one, according to Pederson. It does not have to do with the pectoral muscle injury that ended his rookie campaign.
Rookies Impress Pederson
The plan is for Wentz to develop behind the scenes this season, but that does not mean that the rookie hasn't caught his head coach's attention.
"Very smart. Intelligent guy. Picked up our system, even though it was a little bit watered down for Rookie Camp," Pederson said. "We had no huddle issues with him, meaning he was just spitting the plays out. As a quarterback, this offense can be a little wordy there. He did a nice job with that. He sees the field extremely well. Big, tall guy. Good arm. Athletic. Some of the (run-pass option) plays during camp this past weekend, you saw some of the explosiveness."
Wentz's intangibles were also evident to Pederson in Tuesday's full-team setting.
"He's a leader, too. You could see a little bit of it today. He's clapping, cheering, rallying the guys. If a guy makes a mistake, he's like, 'Hey, let's get back and do it again.' That's the type of guy Carson is," the head coach said.
Pederson also praised some other members of the Eagles' draft class. One of those players was third-round pick Isaac Seumalo. Unfortunately, Seumalo is unable to be with the Eagles during OTAs due to the NCAA graduation rule as Oregon State is on the quarter system.
"One thing I noticed about Isaac is how sharp he is during that Rookie Camp that we just had," Pederson said. "He's a smart guy and the beauty of the thing is that as coaches we get to communicate with the guys during the offseason when they aren't here. We can teach Isaac and we can really get him caught up ... so that they're not missing too much time."
Fifth-round pick Wendell Smallwood caught 68 passes in three seasons at West Virginia. The running back's ability to catch the ball made him an intriguing prospect for the Eagles.
"I really do like how well he catches the football out of the backfield. I think that's just a gift that he has. He's a natural pass catcher," Pederson said. "I like that part of him. Pretty good vision. Again, he's another one of those rookies that's learning the game and he's getting exposed to the bigger picture of everything but I really like where he's headed and the direction that we can take him."
Left Guard Is Allen Barbre's Job To Lose
Four of the Eagles' five starting jobs along the offensive line are set for 2016 - left tackle is Jason Peters, center is manned by Jason Kelce, free agent acquisition Brandon Brooks is in at right guard and Lane Johnson is the right tackle.
Well, what about left guard?
"Right now, it is Allen Barbre's job," Pederson said. "I think again that's something we did through the draft and through free agency is to shore up that spot. I really like where we're at. I like the depth at that position, but Allen Barbre is my guy and he's our starter."
The Eagles kicked off OTAs on Tuesday, May 17th at the NovaCare Complex. Check out photos from the day ...