Carson Wentz Adjusting to New Weapons
It’s December but to the Eagles it looks a whole lot like August, circa preseason game number one or two.
The Eagles will line up in Washington against the Redskins on Sunday with four offensive players who were on the practice squad when the season began and a reserve right tackle. And they will do that in the homestretch of a race with the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East.
Receiver Rob Davis was the latest practice squad graduate to join the fray when the Eagles called him up Thursday to replace Alshon Jeffery, who was placed on Injured Reserve with is believed to be a Lisfanc injury in his foot.
Davis played three games earlier this year with the Redskins and caught one pass for 11 yards.
In addition to Davis, quarterback Carson Wentz will have at his disposal tight end/receiver Josh Perkins, receiver Greg Ward, and running back Boston Scott. Perkins arrived from the practice squad just two days after Thanksgiving; Ward was promoted five days before Thanksgiving; Scott came up on Oct. 11.
“It keeps changing every week,” said Wentz on Thursday. “That’s part of the NFL and it’s part of the injuries that happen. The key is keeping everyone confident and on the same page. I’ve seen a lot of these guys throughout the year in practice and the plays that they make, talking ball with them, talking through things, getting in as much work as we can, getting in as many reps as we can.”
The challenge to working in new pieces at this stage of the season is that Wentz and the coaching staff need to identify what plays that make both the quarterback and receivers comfortable enough to operate successfully.
“That’s something during weeks like this, you’re trying to sort through,” said Wentz. “It’s something we’re still searching and trying to find out. At the same time, we’re not trying to do too much and do anything too creative, and just let those guys go out and play fast and let them do what they do best and do it to the best of their ability.”
Halapoulivaati Vaitai will be at right tackle in place of Lane Johnson, who has a high ankle sprain and won’t play.
Receiver Nelson Agholor has not practiced all week with a knee injury so, barring a quick recovery, he probably won’t play Sunday, either.
Prior to the season, the thinking was that if Wentz could stay healthy the Eagles could make a Super Bowl run. Well, Wentz has so far upheld his end of the bargain and is playing this deep in December for the first time since 2017, but his cache of weapons hasn’t lived up to their end of the deal.
Jeffery, receiver DeSean Jackson and running backs Darren Sproles and Corey Clement are all on Injured Reserve. So too are defensive tackles Malik Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway.
Wentz said he hadn’t given it a second thought about playing in his 14 game of the season on Sunday, a game mark he has not reached in two seasons.
“I haven’t thought much about it other than obviously it’s getting chilly outside a little bit,” said Wentz. “Big picture wise, the last couple years those were tough, not finishing the season, but hopefully God willing those things are behind me.”