As Nate Sudfeld watched Saturday’s training camp practice with his left arm in a sling, the Eagles confronted more injury news. Like Sudfeld’s broken wrist, it might not amount to much in the long run, but it certainly will affect their preseason.
Sudfeld watched healthy quarterbacks Carson Wentz, Cody Kessler and Clayton Thorson command an offensive cast that did not include right tackle Lane Johnson (knee) or tight end Dallas Goedert (calf).
Johnson and Goedert were classified as “week-to-week,” and given that there are only two more preseason weeks with games that traditionally feature prominent players, their preseasons are over. Both players are projected to be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 8 against Washington.
Right tackle Jordan Mailata played a hefty 53 snaps against Tennessee in Thursday’s preseason opener. With Johnson no longer playing in the preseason and not practicing right now, Mailata will get a lot of time with the first-team offense.
“It was a great opportunity, it was,” Mailata said of the preseason opener. “I think I did good.”
Eagles coach Doug Pederson agreed.
“We were pleased with his performance. It wasn't perfect,” Pederson said. “There were one or two there, just little mental errors. Overall, I felt like he came out with an eagerness, with an aggressiveness, and really showed the type of player that I think he's capable of being.”
Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said Mailata “did a nice job” in his first game action as a right tackle.
Mailata, 6-foot-8 and currently 360 pounds, he said, grew up playing rugby in Australia and was introduced to football last year.
“I was very happy with his set lines and the way he surfaced the blocks,” Stoutland said. “There’s improvement there, but I think there’s still a ways to go.”
The Eagles have Zach Ertz, of course, at tight end in addition to Goedert, along with Josh Perkins, Alex Ellis, Richard Rodgers and Will Tye. Goedert might have been the most productive Eagle against the Titans, catching three passes for 50 yards while playing just a dozen snaps.
Pederson did not endorse the optimistic six-week timetable a source close to the situation has given for Sudfeld’s recovery, but said: “We’ll get him back soon.”
Sudfeld acknowledged the injury could have been worse.
“Thank God it’s not my right hand,” he said. “You never know what complications could come with using it and throwing every play. If I could pick an injury, it would probably be my left wrist or something like that. So I’m really thankful for that, and trying to see the silver lining.”
The plan to make Sudfeld Carson Wentz’s primary backup envisioned Sudfeld playing a lot in the preseason, against better competition than he saw last August, when he was the third-stringer, playing later in games. Sudfeld has appeared in just three career regular-season games.
“It’s definitely disappointing … I felt like I was getting in a rhythm, felt like I was doing a lot of things that I wanted to do,” Sudfeld said. “Felt like as a team we were getting better, on offense we were putting some plays together. You play football to play in those games, you know? You’re not doing it just to practice all year.”
Pederson said they have seen a good bit of Sudfeld since he arrived on waivers from Washington two years ago, if not so much in games.
“Would you like more time? Yeah, you’d like to get another game or two to see him in a little more action," Pederson said. "But what he’s proven to us in practice the last couple of years, what he’s done out here, what he did in the game the other night, again, he was smart with the football, made great decisions, threw the ball with accuracy. Those are all things you look for in the backup. He did a nice job in kind of solidifying that spot.”
Sudfeld was 10 of 18 for 177 yards against Tennessee, including a 75-yard touchdown. He said he couldn’t say much about recovery time, never having experienced such an injury.
“I’m trying to get back as soon as I can, but I’ve never broken a bone before,” he said. “Trying to listen to the doctors and everything, hopefully be back really soon.”
Sudfeld went down just 19 seconds before halftime, Titans defensive tackle Isaiah Mack slamming him backward after Sudfeld released a pass. Sudfeld put his arms out behind him and hit the ground hard as a penalty flag flew for roughing.
“It felt a little weird,” Sudfeld said. “My hand was a little numb. I was moving my fingers, and the break was right above my wristband … I just kind of stood there for a second wiggling my fingers, and I looked down and my wristband was kinda crooked. I said, ‘Uh, that’s probably not good.’ So I just ran off the field.
“Pretty much knew [there was a break] pretty quickly. Fortunate that I was able to get surgery early the next morning. Feel good that it’s back in place and I’m on the road to recovery.”
Sudfeld said he had “a plate and some screws” in the radial fracture, and that he is “fixed, but not healed.”
The Eagles scored no points after Sudfeld left the game. Relying heavily on Kessler and Thorson for the remaining preseason games might mean the Eagles won’t be putting on much of an offensive show for fans.
“I was really proud of Cody and Clayton. I thought they both had a great practice today, and I’m excited for them,” Sudfeld said.
Both QBs are new to the Eagles’ offense and will get more reps with Sudfeld out.