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August 08, 2017

Carson Wentz enters preseason in Year 2 debut under entirely new circumstances

Eagles NFL

Doug Pederson didn’t really say much about his planned rotation for the Eagles’ first preseason game Thursday against the Green Bay Packers, but much is at least clear: Carson Wentz will play at least a series.

“For sure, he’s going to start the game,” Pederson said when asked about the Eagles quarterback.

Even after playing 16 games (you know, games that actually count) as a rookie, this year’s preseason has a solid amount of intrigue on the Wentz front. The North Dakota native enters Year 2 with a completely different role than at this time last season.

Remember Wentz’s first preseason game against Tampa Bay at The Linc last season? Coming into the night as the Eagles third-string quarterback, he was under siege for a couple of quarters, showcasing raw talent but also a lack of polish en route to finishing 12-24 for 89 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

Oh yeah, he also fractured his ribs, which forced Wentz to miss the rest of the preseason:

Whatever the result on Thursday, you would imagine that the trip to Lambeau Field will be a bit more under control for Wentz. For example, it seems very unlikely that he’ll be front flipping through the air trying to pick up a first down on the ground.

“Obviously things are a little different,” he said with a smile.

Wentz’s injury last year came as a bummer to Eagles fans who anticipated that the preseason would be the only time in 2016 that they would get to see the second-overall pick on the field.

Now the unquestioned starter, Wentz was asked on Tuesday how much he believes the preseason really matters. After all, he came into the regular season with little preparation last season and started on fire en route to leading the Eagles to a 3-0 record.

“I think they’re a big part of development,” Wentz said. “Obviously last year, as rookies to finally get that live action, get some kind of NFL opportunities, I think it’s big. Obviously, I missed a lot of it last year, but just for everybody to kind of get back into the swing of things, get used to the contact, get used to the routine, I think it’s a big part of it.”

There is also the opportunity for Wentz to play with some of his new weapons. It remains to be seen if Alshon Jeffery (shoulder), who has been a limited practice participant the last few days, will play in Green Bay. Pederson indicated that the Eagles’ top receiver is healthy enough to play, but he will make a decision on whether that actually happens.

Many quarterbacks make an improvement from Year 1 to Year 2, and it’s no secret that Wentz has looked very sharp in training camp. But heading into his sophomore NFL season, Wentz seems to be taking a measured approach to training camp and the preseason.

“Just as an offense as a whole, one day we were up here, the next day we were down here,” he said. “That’s kind of training camp, that’s kind of how it is. I would say myself personally, I was kind of similar. You want to be consistent, but that’s training camp to some extent.”

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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