IT MAKES us feel better, for some reason, to believe they are getting along, to be able to paint a picture in our heads of Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz frolicking hand-in-hand, hither and yon.

Or maybe the truth is that we are constantly on guard for signs that they aren't getting along, signs that the veteran quarterback the Eagles are paying $18 million to lead their team this season and the rookie they envision as next year's starter are already chafing at this extremely unusual, perhaps even unique arrangement.

So on Monday, when 38 Eagles rookies and select vets took the field for the first practice of training camp, and Bradford and Wentz spoke with reporters for the first time in six weeks, we eventually discussed paddle-boarding. Not its future as a possible Olympic sport, or the techniques involved in navigating swells, but the fact that when Bradford was asked if he has gotten to know Wentz, Bradford volunteered that he and Wentz pursued this activity together, along with the other dozen Eagles who gathered earlier this month in San Diego to train and bond.

"He's a good dude," Bradford said of Wentz. "We had a good time. We went paddle-boarding one day. It was a lot of fun. I guess him being from (North Dakota) he was used to cold water. I wasn't a big fan of the Pacific Ocean.

"Just going out there, spending time with all the guys, I thought it was great."

Wentz later agreed that the paddle-boarding espisode "was fun."

When Bradford dropped his trade request and ended his two-week boycott of optional activities in May, he pledged to help Wentz any way he could. As far as we know, he has been true to his word.

It can't be easy. Thanks to interviews agent Tom Condon gave during the two weeks Condon was unsuccessfully trying to get Bradford traded to Denver, we know that the Bradford camp questions how effectively he will be able to lead teammates who know Bradford is almost certainly leaving after this season. We know Condon feels Bradford only has the starting job "until the rookie is ready to go," and indeed, when Doug Pederson didn't attach names to his discussion Monday of dividing training-camp practice reps among "ones," "twos" and "threes," the Eagles' rookie coach was asked if he was leaving the regular-season starting QB's identity "open-ended."

Pederson quickly reiterated that "Sam's the guy," while noting that he has to "get through four games and a lot of preseason" practices. "Going into Sept. 11 (when the Eagles open against the visiting Browns), you know, Sam's the guy . . . I'll stick to that as we go. Chase (Daniel) is the No. 2 and Carson is No. 3."

Pederson said that since the twos and threes play most of the way in the first two preseason games, he'll give them (and Wentz) extra practice reps early, then favor the ones more as he gets closer to the third preseason game and the start of the regular season.

Is it hard for Bradford to put aside questions about his status and just work on learning Pederson's West Coast offense, work on getting ready for the season?

"Not really," Bradford said. "I think at this point, I'm just trying to come out here, get better each day, try to make this team better, try to help this team win games, do my job the best I can, and then whatever happens, happens."

It surely helps that this is the first year since 2013 that Bradford has entered camp off a full offseason of work that didn't involve ACL rehab. A year ago, as he joined the Eagles, he came to camp having not run Chip Kelly's offense in an11-on-11 practice.

"Compared to this time last year, it's night and day, just like it was in the spring. Actually being able to train this summer, to work out and not worry about rehab, to not worry about putting too much stress on my (twice-repaired) knee, it was great," Bradford said.

However much Wentz has to learn about quarterbacking in the NFL after just 23 starts at North Dakota State, he is more naturally outspoken than Bradford, carries himself with a bit more swagger. Bradford was asked a lot about leadership Monday,.

"I just try to be myself. I don't try to be anything other than that. I just try to go out there, lead by example, I don't say a whole lot, except when I feel that it's needed," said Bradford, 28, who married longtime girlfriend Emma Lavy on July 15 in Aspen, Colo. "But I think all the guys will tell you that I work hard and I do my job, and hopefully, the guys respond to that and follow that.

"I think you guys expect, like, a big 'rah-rah,' somebody who's yelling at people every play. That's just not me. I think there's a lot of subtle things that you guys probably aren't privy to or can't hear from where you guys are at (during practice)."

Bradford still isn't ripping former coach Kelly, who brought him here from St. Louis, but there is no doubt that Bradford likes having a huddle to command again, and being able to change plays, two things the Eagles sacrificed on the altar of tempo during Kelly's tenure.

"It is different. It's a lot different . . . I think there's obviously pros and cons to everything. I think being in the huddle gives you a chance as a quarterback, to sometimes take control," Bradford said. "Especially if you've got a new play that week, or a gameplan-specific play, you can kind of remind your guy, 'Hey get your depth,' or, 'I need you to sell this,' 'make sure we're looking for this' when we break the huddle, which is nice. Because it's hard to communicate those things when you're not huddling."

Pederson said Bradford "left the spring playing extremely, extremely good football," and "picked up today where he left off."

Pederson also said that finally being completely healthy to start camp is "just a tremendous boost" for Bradford.

"This is really where a team is built. This is where we come together as a team," Bradford said. "I think the good teams are the ones who don't let the days become monotonous, and who aren't just trying to check off a box, to get to the next day. I think if we can use this time to our advantage, focus every day on getting better, by the time Cleveland comes around, we'll be in a really good place."

@LesBowen

Blog: philly.com/Eaglesblog