Two weeks later than he had hoped, Carson Wentz will be back on the field with his Eagles teammates Sunday playing in his first football game since tearing the ACL and LCL ligaments in his left knee last December.
"My goal was Week 1,'' Wentz said Wednesday. "I came up just short. But I knew the medical staff and trainers and coaches put a good plan together, and I trusted what they had to say.''
Wentz has been participating in all aspects of practice for weeks, but wasn't cleared for contact until Monday. He will start Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field against the Colts, replacing Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.
"Physically, I felt good [two weeks ago],'' Wentz said. "I felt about the same as I do now. But it comes down to what the research says, what the doctors are saying. And this was for the best. The best situation.''
Wentz takes over an injury-hobbled offense that has scored just 39 points in the first two games. Foles threw just one touchdown pass and averaged 5.5 yards per attempt in the first two games. In the Eagles' three playoff wins last season, he threw six TD passes and averaged 9.2 yards per attempt.
On Wednesday, Wentz made sure to acknowledge what Foles accomplished last season during his absence.
"The success Nick had, Super Bowl MVP and all that, we all owe him a lot,'' he said. "From the outside looking in, you might think it'd be hard, might be tough [to watch Foles play so well]. But our relationship is such, we're so close. First and foremost, we're brothers in Christ. So we realize there's a bigger picture. We realize there's a lot more to it.
"We don't know what next season is going to look like for any of us. For right now, we're going to enjoy what we have together and keep lifting each other up.''
Wentz was the hottest quarterback in the NFL before he got hurt on Dec. 10 at Los Angeles. His 33 touchdown passes were the most in the league through 14 games. He had the league's highest third-down and red-zone passer ratings.
If he had stayed healthy, Tom Brady almost certainly would have one fewer NFL MVP award in his trophy case or bank vault or wherever the hell he and Gisele keep their valuables.
"I just want to pick up where we left off last year,'' Wentz said. "We had a lot of big plays last year when we were in situational football. Third down, red zone, things we really excelled in last year. Those are things we want to keep building on.''
Wentz hasn't played in a football game in nearly 10 months, but he said rust won't be a concern Sunday.
"I've been fortunate the last couple of weeks to be the scout [team] quarterback and go up against our first-team defense,'' he said. "They obviously play very fast. So I think everything will become second nature once I get out there.
"At the end of the day, I, and really this whole offense and this whole organization, always have high expectations. We expect to start fast, play fast, be clicking.''
Said right tackle Lane Johnson: "I think he's going to hit the ground running. His arm may be stronger than it was last year, just from what I've seen.
"Mobility-wise, he's running around, looking good. I know he's excited. We just have to protect him, and good things will happen.''
Coach Doug Pederson said the players clearly are excited to have Wentz back.
"As they say, the band is slowly coming together,'' he said. "This is one piece of it.''
Wentz will wear a brace on his surgically repaired left knee Sunday. He's worn it since he returned to the practice field last spring.
"I feel comfortable with it,'' he said. "We'll see after the season how I feel with it. But I feel good with it right now.''
Wentz has repeatedly said his injury won't change the aggressive way he plays the game. "I am who I am,'' he said last January before the Super Bowl. "Injuries aren't going to change me.''
That said, he knows he must protect himself.
"Obviously, the injury is going to magnify that,'' he said. "But that's something I've done my whole career. I've always harped on finding a way to protect myself and [still know] when to extend a play. That's something I'll always keep looking at.''
Wentz had 27 rushing first downs last season. That was the sixth most in the league among quarterbacks. Will he still be as willing to move the chains with his legs when the opportunity presents itself? To be determined.
"Even last year, I never said I'm a running quarterback,'' he said. "I never said I wanted to be one. But I'll find ways to extend the pocket and make plays down the field. I don't think that's going anywhere.''
Wentz is excited that his first game back is at the Linc, in front of Eagles fans. He compared the experience to his first start in college at North Dakota State and his first start with the Eagles as a rookie in 2016.
"Playing at home always is a positive,'' he said. "I'm definitely going to cherish running out of that tunnel. I'm going to cherish being back out there with the guys after the long rehab and missing these games.
"There's going to be a lot of emotions going on. But once the game starts, it's football again.''
Is Pederson concerned that Wentz will be too amped?
"It's his first start,'' he said. "There are going to be emotions. I can talk to him from now until kickoff, and there's always going to be that anticipation of taking the field. You kind of want him to experience that and what it feels like.