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August 14, 2019

Eagles appear to be shutting down Carson Wentz for their preseason games, as they should

The Philadelphia Eagles may head into the 2019 regular season with their healthy starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, potentially not taking a single snap in the preseason.

Doug Pederson has not yet announced this, but he kinda-sorta-maybe hinted at it on Tuesday.

"He's done some great things out here [in practice], obviously," Pederson said when asked if Wentz would sit out the entire preseason. "I try to make the way the practices are set up in training camp as hard as they can be in camp and not just for him, but for everybody and we've seen a lot of good things. He's progressing and getting better every single day. The timing and rhythm with his receivers is getting better and it's still kind of up to me to play anybody the rest of the way, but getting a lot of great work in in these practices."

In other words, Pederson did not rule out the possibility of Wentz sitting the rest of the preseason. Wentz echoed Pederson's point about the pace of practices.

"We feel great out here," he said. "These practices are obviously high intensity. The defense that we have is extremely talented. They present a lot of different looks, and everyone is flying around, so this is as game-like as you can get, minus the hitting. I feel like we're getting a really good workout here.

"I'm not real concerned about what preseason brings, so to speak, in the sense of what it can offer me. I think it's good, but at the same time I don't think it's necessary, so I really trust that Coach [Pederson] will make those decisions."

The pace of the already "intense" practice sessions should escalate next week, when the Eagles will hold joint practices with the Baltimore Ravens.

So, what are the pros and cons of Wentz sitting out the preseason?

Cons of sitting out the preseason

A season ago, the Los Angeles Rams opted to sit a healthy Jared Goff for the entirety of the preseason. In a piece for the LA Times, Sam Farmer spoke with a number of ex-quarterbacks and coaches about that decision. The common theme was that practice settings can't simulate the speed of the game in the preseason. 

(The Rams started 8-0 in 2018, and scored at least 33 points in each of their first five games.)

Pros of sitting out the preseason

Not to state the super-obvious, but Wentz won't get hurt in a meaningless preseason game. Duh.

In case you were unaware, Wentz has had each of his last two seasons cut short due to injury. Yep, it's true! He tore his ACL and LCL in 2017, and he fractured a bone in his back in 2018. Some might be inclined to save him for games that actually matter.

Additionally, the Eagles' No. 2 quarterback, Nate Sudfeld, broke his wrist in the Eagles' first preseason game less than a week ago, and the Eagles don't have anyone left at quarterback to feel good about if Wentz should go down as well, like he did during the 2016 preseason, when he cracked some ribs while taking a hit from a Michael Awe, who never played regular season snap in the NFL. 

And if the argument is, well, the Eagles could always put him out there and run some plays that don't put him in much danger, keep in mind that Terrell Suggs dove at Sam Bradford's knees on a handoff during the preseason. Remember this?

And we should probably also mention other starting quarterbacks around the league like Trent Green, Michael Vick, Mark Sanchez, Bradford (a different year), and Tony Romo, who all suffered serious preseason injuries once upon a time.

Cons vs. pros

So, there's the advantage of allowing Wentz to see "the speed of a preseason game" for a quarter or so, orrrrrrr the Eagles could just ensure that the most important person in their franchise doesn't suffer a season-killing injury before it even begins.

Tough call.

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