AMONG THE MANY theories offered for Carson Wentz's recent struggles is mental and physical fatigue. In December, this is often a battle for rookies, who are asked to work longer and harder than they ever did in college.
Wentz, who has thrown six of his 11 interceptions during the Eagles' current three-game losing streak, dismissed any concern in his weekly Wednesday meeting with the media.
"I feel good," Wentz said. "I think it comes down to, do you love it enough? I think if you love the game and you're around it, you enjoy the grind. You attack it and it's kind of part of the process.
"For me, there's no more school to go to during the day, it's just football, all day, every day, and I love that. It's been a lot of fun, and by no means is it wearing on me in a negative way."
So, despite having lost seven of his last nine starts, the quarterback doesn't wish he was back home in North Dakota.
"For one, I love the fact that you're always learning. There's always something new to learn," Wentz said. "I love the competitiveness. I love the men in that locker room. There's something about when a bunch of guys come together for a common goal that can't be put into words. It's something really special . . . I just really have a passion for it, and I think a lot of guys in that locker room do, too."
The North Dakota State Bison were 71-5 during Wentz's time there, though, so 5-7 is a little different, and challenging.
"It's frustrating. Nobody likes losing. Especially in this business, as a quarterback, I'm wired to be a winner. I hate losing," Wentz said. "But at the same time, it doesn't affect us going forward . . . We're going to come in and prepare and be the same, win or lose, because I think that's what it takes to be great. You can't waver, you can't change how you approach things, you can't change how you go about your business, win, lose or draw. But at the same time, yeah, without a doubt, we don't like losing around here."
Wentz said getting on a bus or plane to head home after a loss like Sunday's at Cincinnati is hard. "But you get over it." he said. "You turn on the tape. You learn from it. Right after you watch that tape, it's on to the next. That's kind of the nature of this league, and that's how you have to approach things."
Wentz said better discipline and execution will pull the team out of its scoring slump. Getting back running back Ryan Mathews (knee), a full practice participant Wednesday, and top wide receiver Jordan Matthews (ankle), who was listed as a limited participant, also should help.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he spoke with Wentz about Pederson's experiences as the quarterback of a 5-11 Eagles team in 1999 and a 3-13 Cleveland team the next season.
"It's just a matter of keeping him grounded, keeping him levelheaded," Pederson said.
Right tackle Lane Johnson has two weeks remaining in his 10-game suspension. Doug Pederson said the Eagles "are at the beginning of the conversations right now" for when Johnson returns.
He said whether Johnson plays right away, returning on a short week before a Thursday night game against the Giants, depends on how Allen Barbre looks these next two weeks, and how rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai recovers from his MCL sprain.
"But Lane was a big part of our success early in the season, so I wouldn't hesitate to put him back in there," Pederson said.
Long snapper/magician Jon Dorenbos is the Eagles' nominee for the NFL's Walter Payton man of the year award . . . As expected, right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) and wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (oblique) didn't practice Wednesday . . . Doug Pederson said he wants to keep wide receiver Paul Turner involved in the offense, even with Jordan Matthews returning.