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Eagles' Carson Wentz prepares for first start without Jason Peters

Carson Wentz's blind side will now be protected by Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz gives tackle Jason Peters a pat on the helmet during a game against the Giants.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz gives tackle Jason Peters a pat on the helmet during a game against the Giants.Read moreClem Murray / Staff Photographer

Carson Wentz has started every game of his young NFL career with Jason Peters at left tackle. For the first time on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, he will take the opening snap of the game without the security of Peters protecting his blind side.

"Losing Peters is a tough loss," Wentz said during his Thursday news conference. "Love that guy. Been praying for him like crazy. We have a mentality in here that's infectious and it's just the next guy up. We have a ton of confidence in [Halapoulivaati Vaitai] to step up. Everyone else is just contributing and keep getting better as well. It's a tough loss, but we have a ton of confidence that he'll get the job done and we'll keep this train rolling."

The train is rolling because of the way Wentz is playing this season. He leads the NFL with 17 touchdown passes. His quarterback rating of 104 ranks No. 4 in the league. He continues to receive more national attention and fanfare, and Wentz has made sure to stay grounded. That hasn't been a problem since arriving in Philadelphia from North Dakota State.

"Just the nature of the flow of the season and how quickly you've got to turn around and go onto the next," Wentz said. "Plus, I've always been wired that way."

The focus this week is on the winless 49ers. They visit Philadelphia with an 0-7 record, the NFL's 28th-ranked total defense and the 25th-ranked pass defense. It's a favorable matchup for the Eagles, no matter how Wentz tries to spin it.

"You turn on the tape and you wouldn't think that's an 0-7 football team," Wentz said. "We have to do what we do best, which is make plays, stay on the field, and convert in those key situations. We definitely can't sleep on these guys."

The biggest challenge for the Eagles this week will be overcoming the loss of Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler who can give a quarterback peace of mind when taking a snap. The Eagles are expected to keep Lane Johnson at right tackle and insert Vaitai at left tackle. That means Vaitai must protect Wentz's blind side, which has often been well-protected since he came to Philadelphia.

"I guess it's something I've never really had to think of," Wentz said. "JP's been dynamite back there. But I have a ton of confidence in whoever's over there. And at the end of the day, it's a feel thing. You're keeping your eyes downfield, but you're feeling pressure and trying to move in the pocket. Whoever's out there, we'll be just fine."

Extra points

Cornerback Ronald Darby (ankle) was limited at practice on Thursday. That was the only injury of note. …The Eagles tried signing tight end Blake Jarwin off of Dallas' practice squad, according to several reports. The Cowboys promoted him to keep him in Dallas.

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