There are more and more signs pointing to Carson Wentz returning for the Philadelphia Eagles’ Week 3 game against the Indianapolis Colts. On Sunday morning, NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Wentz “could be cleared for contact as early as this week.” That’s been the final hurdle for Wentz returning to the field.
This report matches up with what we’ve been hearing recently. But Rapoport also did offer caution that Wentz might not play just yet.
The third week of the season has always been a target and Philly’s franchise quarterback has progressed in rehab enough to where that is quite possible.
However, that is not the end of the story. The question of when Wentz will actually get on the field to play a real football game is a complicated one. The team is not in a rush for Wentz to play and there are several key, influential voices who have been preaching caution -- including owner Jeffrey Lurie. With Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles starting Sunday against the Bucs, the Eagles have the best backup plan in football.
The thinking has been -- and will be throughout -- that the decision of when Wentz will return to the field following a torn ACL and LCL is about the next 10 or 15 years, rather than 10 or 15 minutes. As one source familiar with the team’s thinking said, if the Eagles need to hold him out longer, they are fully committed to doing so. That’s why it still might be a few weeks until he plays.
One source who knows Wentz well says the QB will be fighting for the chance to play and no one expects any different. But return-to-play situations take many voices to weigh in, from medical to the team to the player.
We’ve heard these lines about the Eagles being extra cautious a billion times by now. I’m thinking the Eagles are continuously trying to put it out there because they want people to genuinely believe they’re being extra cautious with Wentz and not rushing him back. So far, there’s been no reason to suggest they’ve acted otherwise.
But if Wentz IS cleared to play, he should play. By definition, it doesn’t seem like a “rush” at that point. Because if he’s not truly ready to play, then he shouldn’t be cleared in the first place. As Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh put it last month: “If he’s cleared, he’s cleared. Once you say you’re cleared, you’re cleared. You’re ready to go. It’s not like you’re cleared, but ...”
And so it’s seeming like it’s more and more possible Wentz will be back on the field for the Eagles next Sunday. While Foles is certainly capable fill in, there’s no disputing that this is Wentz’s team when he’s ready to play.
[FIRST UPDATE: 11:41 AM ET] - NFL insider Adam Schefter appeared on ESPN on Sunday morning and said Wentz is on track to return for Week 3. Here’s more:
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz still needs final medical clearance, but he is on track to return next Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, league sources tell ESPN. Philadelphia has been cautious about rushing Wentz back from last season’s knee injury, despite how strong he has looked in practice. There were some within the Eagles organization who thought that, from a football standpoint, Wentz was ready to play Week 1, though the team stuck to a plan it had laid out for the star quarterback, taking a long-range view. Wentz tore it up at practice this past Wednesday -- the nine-month anniversary of his injury, looking sharp and ready for action. All that now remains is being medically cleared, without anyone stepping in the way, which is likely to happen as early this week, according to sources.
[SECOND UPDATE: 12:08 PM ET] - The Daily News is confirming Schefter’s report.