As a rookie quarterback, there are times when Carson Wentz really stands out in a good way. Take his excellent 50-yard deep pass to Josh Huff during Saturday's practice, for example. But then there are times when Wentz looks the part of a rookie. The 23-year-old passer clearly still has a lot to learn as he adjusts to the NFL. Eagles head Doug Pederson recently explained what the Eagles are working on with Wentz.
"Specifically trying to keep his feet tighter to the ground," said Pederson. "He can get a little jumpy, a little hoppy. He can also be a little upright in his frame, so try to keep him in a bent posture a little bit, and then just his knowledge and understanding of the offense, being able to anticipate and become an accurate -- a little more accurate passer. He can work on those things with drill work and just the more reps he gets, he'll be more comfortable with those. There are just a couple things we're doing with him."
Sometimes there are moments in practice where Wentz doesn't throw as tight of a spiral you'd expect to see out of an NFL quarterback. This wobble was more apparent in the spring, but it still shows up during some of Wentz's training camp reps. Is the wobble showing up due to a tweak from the Eagles?
"Not from the upper part of his body, not a throwing mechanic, nothing like that," answered Pederson. "Just trying to make sure his lower half of his body is in a better posture. Sometimes he can get a little tall, and sometimes that affects your throw."
"Keeping his feet tighter to the ground where he can get the ball out faster, and then just where he's -- sometimes some of those balls can be the process of -- because I've been there. It's the process of thinking about the play, and the last thing you're worried about is the throw. You're more worried about the progression of the play, and sometimes that affects the throw."
Though Wentz is clearly talented, it's also apparent he can benefit from having time to refine his craft. Which is a big reason why the team isn't ready to force him into action right away.
Watch Pederson's Sunday press conference in the video below via the Bleeding Green Nation Facebook page.
Read below for a transcript of Pederson's press conference.
Q. What do you know about CB Nolan Carroll’s injury right now?
DOUG PEDERSON: You know what, all it is, basically, is it’s his first time back out there on the football field, so it just got sore. It's not an ankle sprain [or] an injury, it just got sore over the length of the practice yesterday, and it's just something that we'll have to monitor. As we continue to go with these practices, it'll continue to sort of get in shape and get back to game ready.
Q. So will you hold him back over the next few days?
DOUG PEDERSON: We'll monitor it more than hold him back, if that answers your question. You know, he's one that doesn't want to come out, obviously, but at the same time, we've got to make sure that he is healthy when he's on the field.
Q. Yesterday was a three-hour practice. Is that going to be the norm, do you think, or is that just --
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, it's going to be -- today is a little shorter. Today is a little over two [hours]. But a normal football game is three hours long, so why not start right now and get them in game-ready shape.
Q. Generally, how did your team come out of the first day in pads with the heat and everything considered?
DOUG PEDERSON: Good, real good. We're always going to have the nicks and bumps each and every day, and we had a couple guys that got a little dehydrated, so you needed the IV fluids and things like that. But everybody bounced back yesterday afternoon in the walk-through, perfectly, and everybody is ready to go this morning.
Q. It seems that for the last couple of years, every preseason, one of the reoccurring topics is that the upcoming season is going to be a break out year for TE Zach Ertz. What does that mean to you and what kind of expectations are there for him this year?
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, Zach, he's a great tight end, Number One. He’s a great team player and a good leader on the football team. He's really sort of coming into his own now. He had a good spring. I love all of our tight ends, but in his case, he can definitely create some opportunities for us. His ability to catch the football and his ability to separate. He's a big target over the middle.
The one thing that I would say with Zach is, and really with any tight end, is just the physicality of blocking and being on the line of scrimmage. You know, with [TE] Brent Celek sort of taking that lead, he's one that's going to have to sort of be that second guy for us as we go throughout training camp and the regular season.
Q. To follow up on that, is there a way that Ertz can be better in the red zone? He hasn't had a lot of production there in his first couple of years in the league. Is there a way that he can improve in that facet?
DOUG PEDERSON: Well, red zone can come down a lot to scheme and how are you attacking defenses. To be quite honest, defenses typically start their red zone philosophy at the 12-yard line, and it gets really tight down there.
So you’re seeing a lot of teams drop eight and there are more guys into the pass coverage as opposed to the pass rush, because teams are trying to throw the football. It just comes down to scheme and how you're trying to attack a defense in the red zone.
But fully expect to use his talent down there and his size and his ability to separate and make plays down there.
Q. It has been three days where we’ve seen C/G Stefen Wisniewski as a right guard with the first team offense. What has he shown you?
DOUG PEDERSON: Everything we expected of him. He's a veteran guy and has got a lot of starts in the National Football League. It's not too big for him. He's picked up the system. He’s a smart kid, and somebody that is definitely going to fit into the mix in the rotation at guard for us. As you know, this is typical of a regular season. Those guys that get nicked up and miss a couple days, you know, the next guy steps up, and it's that mentality and he's done a nice job handling that.
Q. Is he on the left side at all or is he going to stay on the right?
DOUG PEDERSON: We'll see him at both guards. Yes, we’ll see him on both sides.
Q. You mentioned having the four tight ends on game day. Is that still kind of your thinking with TEs Trey Burton and Chris Pantale?
DOUG PEDERSON: It is, because Chris is a versatile tight end for me. We can also put him in the backfield and use him as a fullback position, and he also has some value on [special] teams, as do all the -- really the three tight ends, Celek, maybe not as much, but the other three have some core value there on special teams, Chris being one of them, so definitely like to see four potentially up.
Q. What about Burton as a fullback?
DOUG PEDERSON: Trey is getting some work there. You know, can't put Chris in every time, especially during camp with the number of reps, so Trey is also getting some backup reps at fullback.
Q. How close are RB Ryan Mathews and RG Brandon Brooks to returning?
DOUG PEDERSON: Close. It's going to be towards the end of -- we have a break coming up I believe on Tuesday for the players, and then it'll be into next week, probably the latter part of the week before we see them on the field.
Q. You talked about the difference between the slot corner and the outside corner, how it's kind of a different position. You have CB Ron Brooks working at both. How difficult is that?
DOUG PEDERSON: Well, in a case like Ron, again, here's a guy that's had a lot of snaps in the National Football League as you know, and a guy that we feel very comfortable as a staff and particularly on defense that he can transition in there very well. That inside corner nickel spot is a -- it's a different animal, obviously, than being on the outside on the perimeter. There's a lot more – the physical nature of that spot, as well, being able to tackle and take on blockers. He's done a nice job there. We'll continue to watch it, monitor that, get as many reps as we can in there. But all the confidence in the world with him being able to transition inside and out.
Q. There are a lot of practical reasons for moving training camp here obviously, but can you talk about particularly the connection with the fans and how important of a day this is as far as building that connection with the fans, and are two of these open practices enough?
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, I do. I think that -- obviously two of these days, we'll see how many fans we get today, but I expect a nice crowd. The weather cooperated for us. That is probably the one thing that you do miss I'd say on a daily basis is that many fans that we had at Lehigh [University]. Obviously that can be great for the players, but it was a great atmosphere yesterday, great atmosphere over there at the NovaCare facility, not only with the fans but our sponsorships. Everybody that was involved, it was an exciting -- for me it was the first time to really see it, and I didn't know what to expect, but I was fired up with the amount of people that were over there, and the players -- you know what, once we blow the whistle, blow that horn, it's ball for the players, and they're focused on the game, and sometimes that's just on the peripheral. But I'm excited for today and obviously in a couple weeks.
Q. What does it mean to you to have Brian Dawkins working for the Eagles in a scouting position?
DOUG PEDERSON: Oh, any time we can bring alumni back and former players back to the organization to help us, whether it be on an intern basis or maybe potentially on a full-time basis like we've had with [Eagles wide receivers coach] Greg Lewis and [Eagles running backs coach] Duce Staley and guys like that, I think it's beneficial. I think that someone like that can also -- players see him, a former player, particularly on defense, and the type of player that he was and the leadership that he brought to this team and this organization. They can see that. They can see how he handled this city and how people really supported him and rallied around him. I'm excited to see where it takes us, you know, and to see what role he can have even with me hopefully down the road with the team, whether he's speaking to the team or doing some things like that I think could be very beneficial for everybody.
Q. T Jason Peters got some breaks throughout the day yesterday. Is he going to be the only player who's earned that privilege, or are you going to add other guys?
DOUG PEDERSON: There will be some other guys, guys on defense, because we do such a high tempo, fast pace, we want to get in and out of the huddle and do some things. There will be some other guys that we'll -- as we go, take some time off. I don't want to say time off. I mean rest them. Keep them healthy, keep them fresh. Got to get them ready for September 11th.
Q. Do you know who they'll be?
DOUG PEDERSON: Well, you're looking at your corner positions. [CB] Leodis [McKelvin] is a guy that he doesn't need a ton of reps over there. You've got to monitor guys like -- I think the guys that [are] coming off injury, you know, maybe a [LB] Jordan Hicks, you take a look at him and you can say, ‘Hey, let's rest him, back him down and get him ready for the regular season.’
Obviously now Ryan Mathews with his situation, he'd be another one because of his nature, his style of running, which is very physical, being able to pull him back just a little bit. We did the same thing with [Chiefs RB] Jamaal Charles in Kansas City, and when we had Brandon Albert there a couple years ago, and you get some of these guys, these veteran guys, a Justin Houston that we had in Kansas City, the ability to just shut them down for a day and keep them fresh for the season.
Q. QB Carson Wentz expressed real excitement being on the field at Lincoln Financial Field for the first time. Have you gotten that sense from him so far today?
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, I stood over there and watched the players get on the buses, and you could kind of see they're excited. They're excited about being here today, and then saw him, and he was smiling like he normally does, and he was ready to go.
This will be good for all of them, but it will be good for him to experience the fans and experience the stadium for the first time. And again, this is a valuable part of training camp, especially with the young players, to expose them to the stadium for the first time before the first preseason game.
Q. It's almost a full week for Wentz now. What did you see from this week, from the time he reported until now?
DOUG PEDERSON: You know, the way he's handled himself on and off the football field, the way he's executed and sort of assumed his role now, where he's at and the learning -- sort of the learning curve where he's at. Some of the plays he's made yesterday and through rookie camp, some of the -- there's a couple of ‘wow’ plays that you just go, ‘That's the kind of quarterback that you know you have.’
He's right on track, where we want him to be. He's competing every day. He's learning in the room. He's asking great questions in the room. [QB] Chase [Daniel] has done a great job with him and learning as well with [QB] Sam [Bradford]. I like where he's at right now.
Q. Do any of the kickers have an edge yet or is that going to be determined in the preseason?
DOUG PEDERSON: No. Again, it's part of the -- again, it's part of that evaluation process there, and so we haven't made any decisions yet one way or the other who's doing what. They're both getting equal kicks.
Q. What's the benefit of having time in between plays for coaches and assistants to teach the players, based on whether or not they’ve made a mistake?
DOUG PEDERSON: It's the only way we're going to get better. It's the only way. You know, I'm also a believer that you spend time in the meeting room at night watching the tape and making corrections there, as well, but if you can get that immediate feedback right now on the field, it goes -- it goes, because there's been situations, for instance, it happened yesterday with Zach Ertz, where he just -- he was a split end as a tight end and he ran a slant and he got jammed up, and we came back later in the practice and ran the exact same play, and he learned -- he got the same coverage, he learned from it, and we competed the pass. We were able to get that instant feedback not only from him, but as coaches we were able to give him something to help him on the next rep, and I think it's valuable that the coaches get an opportunity. I don't want to take too much time away because we're still working off of a play clock, but at the same time, that instant feedback is valuable.