Carson Wentz dressed quietly Sunday evening, at a narrow stall adjoining those of Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld, in the tiny, bare-bones visitors’ locker room at FedEx Field.
Foles prepared to head across the hall to an interview room with a microphone and a lectern, a duty expected of the quarterback who once again led the Eagles into the postseason. Reporters gingerly maneuvered around equipment bags, trying not to intrude on Wentz’s space as they sought a word with Sudfeld, who had thrown his first career touchdown pass, then had to retrieve the ball from a fan, after receiver Nelson Agholor flipped it away.
Wentz pulled on his suit, head down, acknowledging no one.
He has not spoken publicly since tests following the Eagles’ overtime loss to the host Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 9 showed a stress fracture in his back. But Wentz is not on injured reserve; the team isn’t using his roster spot for help at quarterback or anywhere else.
Wentz’s status gained relevance when Foles had to leave Sunday’s 24-0 victory over Washington with a rib-chest injury, the event that occasioned Sudfeld’s TD pass. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday that tests were negative for any fracture and Foles will start this Sunday afternoon’s wild-card round playoff game at the Chicago Bears, and a medical source said Foles should be fine. But Foles has taken hard hits in the chest-rib area in each of the last two games. If he has more trouble, would the Eagles really ride with Sudfeld in the playoffs, or is there any way they might feel comfortable letting Wentz play again?
A source with knowledge of the situation said Monday that the scan that revealed the stress fracture three weeks ago showed that the fracture was healing -- meaning it occurred before the game at Dallas, in which Wentz seemed stiff and was uncharacteristically inaccurate.
It appeared that Wentz was not able to function without pain that affected his throwing mechanics on Dec. 9, but if there has been further healing, that wouldn’t necessarily be the case today, or this coming weekend, or for that matter, next week, should the Eagles upset the Bears and advance to a rematch with New Orleans.
The NFL Network reported Sunday that Wentz would undergo a scan “at the end of the regular season” to see if he might possibly play again during the playoffs. The report stressed that Wentz is unlikely to play in the postseason.
Pederson was very cagey Monday when talking about Wentz. Asked if he had spoken to Wentz, and if there was any sort of plan for Wentz to practice this week, Pederson said: “I have not talked to Carson today, and no.”
But Pederson committed to Foles as the starter only for this week’s game. Asked if Sudfeld will be the backup against the Bears, Pederson said: “As of right now.”
Pederson has been clear and consistent in his declarations that Wentz remains the team’s starting quarterback, when healthy. When asked for a Wentz time frame, in his first news conference after the stress fracture was discovered, Pederson said it “could be three months, possibly,” for complete healing. It isn’t clear if that was from the time of the scan or from the time of the original injury. And then there is the “could be/possibly” part, which is different from a hard and fast “three months.”
On Monday, asked about Wentz having to watch the postseason for the second year in a row, Pederson said: “Right now, he's being very supportive and he's healing. He's doing everything he can to help Nick. That's his role right now.”
The Eagles were outgained by their opponents in 2018, 5,859 net yards to 5,845. In 2017, they outgained the opposition 5,852 to 4,904. The significant difference is the defensive number.
The final numbers for Zach Ertz, who broke Jason Witten’s NFL record of 110 catches in a season for a tight end: 116 catches, 1,163 yards, eight touchdowns. That’s the most catches in a season by an Eagle, and the 10th-most receiving yards.
The Bears’ leading receiver is second-year running back Tarik Cohen, who finished with 71 catches for 725 yards and five touchdowns. Chicago drafted Cohen 119th overall in 2017′s fourth round, one spot after the Eagles drafted Mack Hollins. “Philly Special” hero Trey Burton caught 54 passes for 569 yards and six touchdowns this year after heading to Chicago in free agency.
Darren Sproles, who might be the secret to an effective running game against the Bears’ No. 1-ranked rush defense, finished his six-game regular season with 120 yards on 29 carries and 15 catches for 160 yards. The last three games, Sproles carried 19 times for 86 yards and caught eight passes for 104 yards. Every week he seems able to do a little more.
Brandon Graham finished the season with four sacks, giving him 42.5 for his Eagles career, the sixth most all-time and eight behind fifth-ranked Greg Brown. Michael Bennett was mildly disappointed Sunday that he finished with nine sacks. If he’d gotten to double figures, Bennett said he would have earned an extra $200,000.
That the only quarterback drafted by the Redskins to throw a touchdown pass at FedEx Field in 2018 would be Nate Sudfeld?
The Eagles were 5-for-6 on two-point conversions during the 2018 season.
From what Doug Pederson said Monday, it doesn’t seem likely the Eagles will get any extra injury reinforcements back for Sunday’s wild-card game.
Pederson said that wide receiver Mike Wallace, in his second week back from injured reserve for a broken fibula, again will take part in only individual drills. He classified corner Sidney Jones (hamstring) as “a little more day-to-day” than Wallace, but said Jones is “still a little bit of a long shot” to play this week.
Pederson was more optimistic about left guard Isaac Seumalo, who missed the final three regular-season games with a pectoral injury.
“Isaac will actually get a few more reps this week and we’ll see where he is at,” Pederson said.
The offense has functioned smoothly with Stefen Wisniewski back in the left guard spot – Seumalo, a 2016 third-round pick, replaced Wisniewski as the starter in Week 5 – so it isn’t a given that Seumalo will get the job back in the postseason, even if he recovers.
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