Coming off a terrible loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson only added to the misery on Wednesday, announcing that Carson Wentz would miss practice with back soreness. About 24 hours later, we learned that the quarterback actually has a fracture in his back, and Pederson confirmed the injury and noted he is questionable to play on Sunday.
Pederson spoke to reporters Friday morning before practice, and was on the receiving end of a lot of questions — while offering few answers — about the team’s medical staff and trainers and why Wentz’s injury wasn’t identified and dealt with sooner. He also talked about other injuries on the roster, and what they’re doing to prepare for a tough game against the Rams.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On Carson Wentz’s injury
Pederson said he can confirm that Wentz has a “stress injury” that has developed over time, and does not require surgery to heal. When asked if it was a stress fracture, Pederson said injury or fracture, you can call it what you want.
He said that it is an injury that evolved overtime but wouldn’t go into details about when, and said he won’t go into it further because he doesn’t feel like it needs to be aired out publicly and is an in-house decision. Pederson also said keeping those details under wraps is in Carson’s best interest right now.
The head coach said Wentz was “questionable” for Sunday night’s game.
When asked to walk through the timeline of the injury, Pederson once again echoed that from what he knows, it’s evolved over time.
Pederson also said that Wentz dealing with the injury didn’t affect the playcalling.
He was then asked whether this was the same injury that was showed up in October, and whether or not the injury had gotten worse in recent weeks. Pederson began avoiding the questions and restated his opening comments and said, “I’m not answering any more questions about it”.
Pederson did then say that it is something Wentz can recover from fully, and when asked what that timetable might look like, he hesitated to put a number on it, but said up to three months.
He also said that regardless of whether or not he plays, the quarterback will make the trip to California — even if they know ahead of the flight that he won’t be playing.
Pederson also noted that if they do put Wentz back on the field, they’ll only do so if there is no risk in making the injury worse.
The head coach was asked why then, that wasn’t the protocol back when the injury started to evolve. He noted that it’s because it wasn’t initially diagnosed as a stress injury. Pederson followed that up by saying that they haven’t put Wentz in harms way because up until this point he was 100%, there were no symptoms, he practiced and wasn’t on the injury report for this, so there was no issue with that.
Someone then began asking about whether this was the reason for his lack of runs this season, and Pederson quipped back quickly that he had explained earlier in the week that team’s are aware that Wentz can run and defenses are now planning for that and have been able to limit it. But that it wasn’t injury related — whether it was his knee or back.
Pederson was also asked about his comments on Monday saying that Wentz was as healthy as he’s ever been, and he said that was his understanding after their trip to Dallas.
He was asked when the team learned about the fracture, and Pederson noted that Wentz had a test done on Tuesday and everything has evolved since then, but until you do a scan, you don’t know. Later he said that Wentz undergoes regular testing since he’s been on the injury report for various reasons, and that’s something they do for all players battling injuries.
Pederson was then asked if this was somehow related to Wentz’s knee injury, and whether he was maybe overcompensating, but the head coach said that wasn’t the case. And that those are two isolated injuries and there’s no link.
When asked if he was concerned about the number of injuries Wentz has had the past four years — going back to his last year in college — Pederson (who took a minute to gather his thoughts) said that he could see why those things, when asked that way, would look like a red flag.
He went on to point out that some of those were just the nature of the sport, and that players accept those risks early on, but that moving forward they just need to do a better job of protecting him. He elaborated, noting that it starts with the offensive line and running backs, and includes Wentz himself getting rid of the ball and Pederson even calling more screens and quick passes to help in that regard. But he emphasized that these injuries were not going to limit the aggressiveness by either Pederson or Wentz moving forward.
Other the medical staff and other injuries
It was then pointed out that Wentz isn’t the only player to suffer from different or long-lasting injuries, but Pederson said he has a high level of confidence in the medical team, due in part to the constant communication between Pederson and Howie Roseman and the doctors and staff. He said they’ve had a lot of good conversations and protocols in place for the players who have been injured this season.
Pederson was then offered a long list of players who have either had recurrent injuries or who were going to return before being listed on IR. The head coach went on to explain that there is a fine line between whether a player can return or not and how far to push athletes to test whether they can come back.
He said that each player has their own protocol for their return, and they go through each phase to make sure they’re hitting their metrics. Pederson explained that first and foremost it’s the players who want to get back out on the field, and while they then have to go through the protocol, sometimes that can lead to a setback if it came too soon.
Pederson was also asked point blank why the team fired the former medical staff right after winning a Super Bowl, but the head coach said he wouldn’t comment on that. (It had been noted twice at this point that Howie and the medical staff haven’t been available to the media, so the question in turn get asked to the head coach.)