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Carson Wentz showed some encouraging signs in his Eagles preseason debut

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Carson Wentz walked into the Eagles' press conference room wearing a blue polo shirt and jeans. He sidled up to the podium and glanced at its right corner, where a Gatorade protein shake stood angled just so.

He stared at the bottle, then at public relations man John Gonoude.

"Is this Gatorade supposed to be here?" Wentz asked.

Welcome to the NFL, young man.

Wentz made his pro debut Thursday night, albeit in preseason action. It was an eventful evening, from his first snap coming with 80 seconds left in the first half despite Doug Pederson saying before the game that Wentz would start play in the second half.

After the game Wentz said that dramatic debut was due to a quick first drive and Chase Daniel reaching a play count, but count me among people thinking Pederson wanted to see his rookie quarterback try the two-minute drill on for size. Pederson won't see much of Wentz in that situation this season, and he wants to see what he has.

What he was, it turns out, is one of the more impressively athletic quarterbacks in the league.

For a player who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 237 pounds, Wentz is lightning quick when he rolls out or climbs the pocket. His first throw of the evening was from a comfortable pocket, but his first career completion came when he maneuvered between two rushing linemen and launched a bullet to Zach Ertz for a first down.

Numerous other times, Wentz rolled right, both by design and out of necessity, and found receivers reaching towards the sideline.

His best throws, in fact, seemed to come when he was on the move.

"I feel comfortable making plays on the run," Wentz said after the game. "Sometimes the play is breaking down, and I just make a play. Sometimes we snap one early and the d-end was rushing. You've just got to make plays, and I feel very comfortable on the run today."

Wentz reminds me of a more athletic Ben Roethlisberger, albeit with far less accuracy. Roethlisberger is always at his best on the move, and has proven over the past decade-plus to be a near-impossible sack to bag. Wentz still held on to the ball a bit long on a few plays Thursday, but he's an elusive player in the pocket.

There were, of course, downs to go with the ups. He threw a bad-looking interception in the red zone as he tried to target Paul Turner. A Tampa Bay rusher was flush in Wentz's face, and it appeared as though Wentz tried to launch the ball around the rusher's hand, but the ball sailed on him and wound up in a Buccaneer's hands.

"The interception in the red zone, that's something you never want to do. The ball sailed on me, got away from me," Wentz said.

He also took a few big shots from big men, including one in the fourth quarter that drew concerned stares from fans around the stadium. Wentz said it was a good shot on the ribs, and for a second he had a hard time breathing. He took the next snap, of course.

Wentz will have to adjust to the harder-hitting, faster-running NFL, but the rookie already seems equipped — physically, at least — to competently play the position.

"It was a little different, but it still felt like football," he said. "We're still out there just playing ball."

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