Carson Wentz talked to the media after the Eagles’ training camp practice on Saturday and explained his views on the importance of preseason game reps, how Miles Sanders is developing, and what he’s seen so far from both the offense and defense.
On the value of the preseason
Wentz was asked his personal views on whether preseason game reps are important.
“For me, obviously, it’s been different every year. Preseason for me has kind of been all of the place every year. But, I’m good either way. I think it’s good to get out there and get your feet wet, but at the same time, I don’t think without it I’ll have any issue adapting either.”
He noted that it’s good to get out there with the guys for a couple of plays and maybe take a hit or two to get used to that, but he’s fine with playing or not in the preseason.
Wentz said that Coach Pederson does a good job of structuring practice in a way that puts them in pretty similar to live situations and making it feel like a game environment. He admitted that nothing is going to be quite the same as a game — especially when you’re wearing a red jersey in practice — but a lot can be done to make it feel like a game.
On Miles Sanders
Wentz was asked to comment on what he’s seen so far from Sanders, not just as a running back, but also how he’s carried himself as a rookie.
“I think he’s done a great job. I think he’s done a great job coming in, got to know him right away a little bit and see him really this fall so far in camp a little bit, just see what he can do on the field. I’m excited to see him — you know, we get him a little in live periods, but this preseason, get him out there running, breaking tackles, making guys miss. He’s an exciting player.
But off the field, locker room-wise, great guy, solid dude. Today, you see him carrying [Wendell] Smallwood’s pads off, so he’s still fulfilling his rookie roles and he knows that.
He’s definitely going to help this offense.”
Later on, Wentz said that obviously you saw Sanders as a runner coming out of college, but now they’re seeing his versatility as a pass-catcher as well. The QB is excited to see Sanders pass-protect and split him out in some empty sets, and see what all he can do.
On the state of the defense
Wentz has spent the past week throwing against Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox, and was asked what he’s seen from that trio so far. The QB said they’ve looked, especially with Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby not out there right now, those three are getting the bulk of the reps.
He also admitted that they’re making life difficult, along with the safeties and really, the defense as a whole is solid. Wentz noted that they present some really difficult looks, bluff a lot of things, and really challenge the offense.
On expectations of the offense
Wentz noted that his connection with Alshon Jeffery can always improve — as it can with anybody —, but that heading into Year 3 they’ve grown a lot in the ways they communicate and review film and work together to understand each other better on and off the field. He emphasized that the pair has developed a really good relationship and that it continues to get better.
The QB said that understanding how a receiver is going to run a particular route against a certain kind of defense is important with everyone, but with Jeffery specifically because he can do some of the back-shoulder options he provides.
Wentz was also asked about what he thinks the identity of the offense will be this season, particularly with so many weapons. He talked about how that’s a big part of training camp, figuring out how they’re going to use everybody and finding the best roles for each guy in the offense. The QB said that at any point one guy could have a monster day and then it changes each week, but they’re going to be strategic in their game planning for each matchup.
The QB was asked again about how his leadership has grown over the past few seasons, and Wentz noted that it’s grown organically, as it’s expected to as he gets more comfortable with the guys and the organization. He said he’s really just trying to get everyone involved, and spread that influence and connection to the defense and special teams as well.
He was also asked about that report that Phillies’ Andrew McCutchen reached out prior to his ACL surgery. Wentz said they talked a bit about the process and doctors and what to expect in that regard. The QB didn’t hold back, and said “It sucks” and it’s always hard to see guys go through something like that.
Wentz said that open practices are exciting for the players. Going through training camp, things can get monotonous, and to be able to change it up and get a different energy gives them a little extra boost.
The QB also noted that he does have some flexibility in games to switch up the calls, but that he works closely with Coach Pederson, Groh and Taylor in game planning, and that how often he changes things at the line varies depending on the competition and what he might be seeing.