PHILADELPHIA – Ron Rivera is happy with his quarterback, Carson Wentz, and how he’s acclimated to the offense and his teammates.
The Washington Commanders head coach hasn’t seen any signs of stubbornness, hard-headedness, or resistance to coaching. Perhaps, most importantly, Rivera hasn’t detected any clues that Sunday’s game against the team that drafted him second overall six years ago has fazed him.
“I think his approach is the same,” said Rivera on a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “He is a stoic guy. If there is something, he’s not letting anybody see it. The dude’s the same guy. He shows up and he works hard, does the things you ask of him, very attentive to what’s going on, and handles his teammates very well.”
Inside the Eagles’ locker room, several veterans played with Wentz for five seasons, before he was traded to Indianapolis after a disastrous 2020 season. The Colts couldn’t get rid of him fast enough, trading him to Washington after only one season.
There was also an impressionable rookie QB when Wentz was here, and that, of course, was Jalen Hurts.
Hurts, who is making a strong bid to become the franchise quarterback, talked about what he was able to learn from the former franchise quarterback. Nothing he said indicated any lesson Wentz delivered verbally.
“Just saw that he has a great arm,” said Hurts on Wednesday. “He’s a big guy, hard to tackle. He just makes kind of crazy plays in the pocket, so I definitely took notice of that when I was a rookie. And he still does it now. Kind of ducking and dodging and weaving and doing those things.”
Asked if he was able to build a relationship with Wentz, Hurts was short with his reply.
“There’s definitely a mutual respect between the two of us,” he said. “When he went to Indy and now here, definitely a mutual respect, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Fletcher Cox said he spoke to Wentz on Tuesday.
“We loved Carson while he was here,” said the veteran DT. “I still talk to him. … Nothing changed. Carson is a really good friend of mine. We look forward to competing against him.”
Brandon Graham, another defensive lineman who won a Super Bowl with Wentz, said he hasn’t talked to him recently, but you know Graham, and how he likes to trash talk.
“I’m going to talk to him on Sunday,” he said, then laughed.
“It’s going to be nice,” he added. “It’s going to be cool, I’m sure he has this one circled and we have to go out there and take care of business.”
Lane Johnson was on the offensive line that Wentz rewarded with shotguns once and a Yeti cooler another time for blocking for him.
“I still keep up with him, talk to him,” said Johnson, though he said the last time was probably during training camp this past summer. “Carson’s a good dude. As far as respect, I respect anybody that works, and he worked his tail off here.
“Some things didn’t turn out his way, it didn’t turn out his way in Indianapolis, but he’s in a place now to give him another chance, but for me, I’m worried about their defensive line. They’re a talented group. As far as the Carson thing, I’m not rushing the passer. That’s all the defense.”
Johnson was asked about the dynamic that existed between Hurts and
“It was similar to when Nick (Foles) was here too, a peculiar predicament,” he said.
Technically, Nick Sirianni was Wentz’s coach in Philadelphia, though only for about a month before the QB was shipped out for what became a first-round draft pick and a third-round selection.
The coach never leaves a stone unturned in preparing for an opponent.
He watched ‘Hard Knocks’ to see what it revealed about the Detroit Lions.
He listened to Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell’s press conferences last week.
This week, he’s talked to Frank Reich in Indianapolis, though that conversation wasn’t necessarily about the former Colts QB.
“I talk to Frank all the time, but I haven't necessarily talked to Frank about Carson,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve talked to some other guys there I'm close with about it. Just some small talk and everything like that. But of course, anything I can get, we’re trying to get with information on him.
“Like I said, do you need to reach out as much to the Colts in this scenario? The building is so familiar with Carson as well, that we have a lot of information at our hands inside the building.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.