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On the bright side, at least Carson Wentz isn’t injured yet | Early Birds

Monday night’s game against the Giants will be played on Dec. 9. That's the week of the NFL season in which the quarterback’s year has ended the past two seasons.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (right) gathers with his teammates at practice on Thursday.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (right) gathers with his teammates at practice on Thursday.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

Greetings, disillusioned Eagles fan. Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. Because there hasn’t been a lot of that sort of thing around here lately.

Before we discuss said tidings, if you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here​I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @lesbowen.

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Wentz milestone approaches

Monday night’s game against the Giants will be played on Dec. 9. The significance there, as any self-respecting Wentzologist should already know, is that this is the week of the NFL season in which the quarterback’s year has ended the past two seasons.

Wentz tore his ACL and LCL against the Rams on Dec. 10, 2017. His final game last season, before a lingering back injury caused him to be shut down, was Dec. 9 against Dallas.

It hasn’t been discussed in a while, but there was a lot of offseason angst this year around the question of whether Wentz could be healthy for an entire 16 games. Many of the same voices counseling him to run more now, to jump-start the offense, are the same ones who chastised Wentz for exposing himself unnecessarily to injury in days gone by. Wentz has been free of even minor injuries, except that bruised hand a few weeks back, so far in 2019.

“Thanks for speaking on that. Good thing I don’t believe in jinxes,” Wentz said Thursday when reminded of the situation. “I was just asked the other day how I feel. Considering all things, and where I’ve been, I’m definitely thankful for my health right now.”

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. The Eagles practiced in pads Thursday, one of the 10 padded practices each team is allotted per season. Players seemed to find it refreshing. But Jordan Howard remained a limited participant, and Kamu Grugier-Hill missed the session with a concussion.

  2. Even though players keep getting released after praise from coaches, Doug Pederson said Thursday there is no disconnect between the coaching staff and the front office.

  3. Carson Wentz says the Eagles got things going offensively against Miami and can build on that momentum against the Giants.

  4. Pederson says the players are still listening to him as they approach a must-win game Monday night.

  5. The Eagles continue to get help from the Cowboys’ opponents: The Bears beat Dallas, 31-24, on Thursday night.

From the mailbag

Is there an offseason plan that could elevate the Eagles to legitimate contender in 2020? Or do they need a multiyear rebuild? — Brian Rosenwald (@brianros1) via Twitter.

Brian, I am not a multiyear-rebuild guy, especially in this sport. The Eagles have talent, they just don’t have it in some crucial places. I think with better wide receivers they would be something like 8-4 or 9-3 right now. If you added a shutdown corner, they definitely would be one of the top teams in the NFC.

It’s hard to know what the free-agent market will look like, and even if the draft is as good at wideout as we’ve been told, often wide receivers are inconsistent as rookies, even really good ones. The Eagles’ evaluation record at wideout and at corner certainly gives one pause. But I think if you figure out a fix in those positions, they’re a much better team next season. Of course, you also have to factor in holes appearing at other spots, as guys like Jason Peters move on. (Peters’ replacement is here, obviously, in Andre Dillard, but we don’t know how he’s going to develop.)

It’s prudent to be concerned about age at safety, and about what the plan is, with 2020 being the final year of Malcolm Jenkins’ deal, and Rodney McLeod eligible for free agency this offseason. The team needs help at linebacker and edge rusher.

Can all this happen in one offseason? I think most of it can. There is always something that doesn’t get shored up as much as you’d hoped — a year ago, I was pretty sure the Eagles were going to use one of their three picks in the first two rounds on a safety. They did not. But I don’t think safety has had much to do with the way the season has gone.

The salary cap will go up. Totally rebuild the wide-receiver corps, pay a big-time corner, pay an edge rusher, and you can certainly still win the NFC East next year.