Quarterback Carson Wentz gave us all the heads up last week when he met the media. Head coach Doug Pederson told us a decision was coming this weekend. And now the reports, unofficially of course, say that Wentz will take part in 11-on-11 drills on Sunday when the team returns to practice sitting out most of those drills in Training Camp. At the same time, the unofficial news on quarterback Nick Foles is that the shoulder injury suffered in Thursday's preseason game was "minor," and he should have no lingering aftereffects.
First, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief in the case of Foles, who was sacked in the second quarter of Thursday's loss and grabbed at his shoulder as he came off the field and was taken into the blue medical tent behind the bench as everyone felt some anxiety. He said after the loss at New England that he was "optimistic" that forthcoming tests would turn out favorable and they have, reportedly.
Second, we can all inch forward in our seats knowing that Wentz will take part in the high-tempo, 11-on-11 practices that the Eagles conduct. He has not been cleared yet for contact, which is the final, final, final hurdle (presumably) before Wentz resumes as the starting quarterback in this offense, but the 11-on-11 news, reportedly, is exciting.
Then there is Nate Sudfeld, who has thrown five touchdown passes in two preseason games and done some of the things that you look for in a young, developing quarterback. He has worked the pocket pretty deftly. His deep ball, particularly to wide receiver Shelton Gibson, is pretty and on target and long. Sudfeld has moved the football around very nicely and made all the throws. He made a mistake reading coverage in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh, but Sudfeld has been on point since.
In the big picture, then, the three-quarterback look at the quarterback depth chart is as encouraging as ever. It's a game of inches, right, and so for a few moments there on Thursday night as Foles came off the preseason field there was some tension. Some concern. Even if for a moment …
That moment has passed, so we can resume having great optimism. Wentz has looked absolutely terrific through the spring and summer with his movement, his arm strength, and everything that goes into making him a great quarterback. Even when he wasn't taking snaps on the practice field, Wentz worked on his game as he studied the play with his eyes and his mind or conducted footwork drills or just had a catch. Wentz made the most of all of the time he wasn't taking those 11-on-11 reps the last few weeks.
Next for Wentz is working in a pocket that, while he will still wear the don't-touch red jersey, is still prone to collapse and bodies flying everywhere and the acute awareness of action around the feet and legs. It's a dangerous place to be for every quarterback. But it's a necessary step for Wentz as he eyes September 6 and the Atlanta Falcons for the 2018 NFL opener.
Does Wentz being cleared for 11-on-11 work mean that he's more likely to be starting at quarterback on September 6? No, that's not the case. The medical team, the Eagles, and Wentz will follow the protocol and wait until the medical data indicates that he is ready to play in an NFL game and sustain contact. When that clearance happens, nobody really knows. It's a fluid situation. But it's great to know that Wentz is, reportedly, another step further along in his recovery.
Foles escaped what could have been an ugly injury at the Patriots. It's all over. It's done. Whether Foles plays in the third preseason game on Thursday at Cleveland remains to be seen. Head coach Doug Pederson will update his condition on Sunday.
Regardless of what happens with Foles' playing time, we're going to see a lot of Sudfeld, and that's perfectly fine. He and the offense have had energy in the preseason and Sudfeld, for whatever it's worth, has the most passing yards (452) and touchdown passes (5) in the NFL in this preseason. He's got a lot more work ahead. The Eagles wanted to find out exactly what they had in Sudfeld, a third-year quarterback, and they like what they know so far. Sudfeld has come a long, long way, and remember that he was a member of Washington's 90-man roster one year ago. The Eagles and Sudfeld have worked hard in his development.
We're in the home stretch of the preseason. In a matter of two games in the span of 12 days, the preseason ends and the sole focus is Atlanta and starting the regular season off the right way. The quarterbacks have been the subject of so much talk and speculation in the recent months, and now we've got something tangible to really, really, really be excited about. Everything is on schedule for the Eagles to maximize the position with a three-deep depth chart that is about as talented and promising as any team could have.