In an impromptu news briefing at his locker at the NovaCare Complex on Friday afternoon, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz provided an update on his recovery from a season-ending knee injury suffered on December 10 in the victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Wentz suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee in the third quarter of the game and then stayed in for another four plays, finishing with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Wentz then walked off the field and into the locker room.
Now Wentz, while aiding the Eagles in an off-the-field manner as they prepare for Super Bowl LII, has his playing sights set on 2018.
"I feel good. It's a process coming back from something like this," said Wentz, who still isn't sure if the injury happened as he was leaping into the end zone at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or if it happened when he was hit by Rams defenders. "But I'm also really excited for this team. Seeing this team battle through these playoffs, battle all season long through adversity, injury after injury – I wasn't the only one; a lot of guys went down – just seeing the resiliency of this team, it's just such a tight brotherhood. I'm feeling great about that.
"With the injury, rehab is going great and I'm feeling good with where we're at."
Is there a timetable for a return to the playing field?
"It's hard to talk about timetables because these are always fluid injuries and timetables always adjust depending upon where you're at, but I feel very confident," he said. "I truly believe my goal is to be ready for Week 1. I'm going to do everything I can to be ready and I'm very confident in that."
Wentz added that "I 100 percent believe I'll be back better than ever, stronger than ever, and with no looking back."
Wentz has been an early arriver at the NovaCare Complex each day to get his rehab in and to help Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld prepare for the action on the field. He's been in quarterback meetings and team meetings. Wentz attends practices. He was able to be on the field in the playoff games at Lincoln Financial Field with the help of a cane so he wouldn't be knocked off balance in the sideline fray.
And he is extremely proud of Foles, who has been outstanding in compiling a 4-1 record as a starter (the only loss the regular-season finale against Dallas), including two sterling performances in the postseason.
"Nick has done a great job," Wentz said. "Nick's really taken that leadership role and so I'm just trying to help support him the best I can."
Suffering such a devastating injury in the midst of a 33-touchdown, 7-interception, Most Valuable Player-worthy season was significant for Wentz in many ways. Physically, of course, he has a long road of grueling rehabilitation ahead of him. Mentally, the competitor in Wentz wants to be on the field leading the team.
There is nothing easy about what Wentz has and will continue to face with the injury.
"As humans, we all want to be the competitors that we are and be out there on the field. Every time the offense runs out on the field on Sundays, it's tough. It hits me a little bit," Wentz said. "But then I'm in it. I love these guys and I'm a part of this team just as much as anybody else. I get involved in the game and it all kind of goes away.
"But yeah, it's tough to not be out there. But I love watching the guys and I couldn't be happier for Nick. He's been ready all season long. Obviously, stepping in in a situation like that, it's tough. Obviously, you don't get reps throughout the year. He didn't really have a preseason either, dealing with the (elbow) injury, so I've just been more than impressed with how he's stepped up and handled it and just been playing.
"The last game was unbelievable. I love seeing that. Nick's the guy."
Wentz held up the George S. Halas Trophy on Sunday night after the Eagles defeated Minnesota 38-7 to win the NFC Championship at Lincoln Financial Field. It was a special moment for Wentz, who was 11-2 as a starter this season, his second in the NFL. He credits his teammates, the fans, and his faith in the Lord in helping him through these tough times, and now that he's on the sidelines, rather than watching the games from a box, has made it easier for his mental state.
Once the Super Bowl is over, Wentz will work more in a confined environment in the sense that his teammates, the ones who don't need continued physical rehabilitation to come back from injury, will be gone for the offseason.
Wentz will continue his diligent work rehabbing. And then after that, he'll get back on the field playing his brand of quarterback. Wentz said he will not change his style when he returns.
"I am who I am," he said. "Injuries happen. Injuries aren't going to change me. Guys suffer injuries. Our team, everyone, is an example of that. Guys want to talk about learning to protect yourself, we debated that and talked about that all season long (with the media), that will continue to grow and develop. But as far as playing aggressive and being the player that I am, I won't change."
The good times are just beginning for this era of Eagles football, as Wentz thinks the team is "wired for success for a long time" because of the "culture" and the "brotherhood."
First things first, though. The Eagles have a Super Bowl to win on February 4.
"It would be awesome," Wentz said. "It would be awesome."