Wentz ea­ger to re­turn

Ea­gles’ star QB ahead of sched­ule in come­back

The Republican Herald - - SPORTS - By ROB MAADDI

PHILADEL­PHIA — Car­son Wentz was hav­ing an MVP-cal­iber sea­son be­fore a torn ACL forced him to the side­line, where he watched Nick Foles lead the Philadel­phia Ea­gles to their first Su­per Bowl vic­tory.

Wentz has a mis­sion to re­turn for Week 1 and is al­ready ahead of sched­ule af­ter be­ing cleared for 7-on-7 work last week. Still, he has a way togo be­fore he is cleared for full ac­tiv­ity.

“It’s just a process,” Wentz told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “There’s the men­tal side of it, feel­ing com­fort­able with it, but also the phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions that the doc­tors put on you and you have to trust what they’re say­ing. If I could tell you I’d be ready Week 1, I would. I just don’t know. It’s a fluid process. That’s ob­vi­ously the goal but so far things have been great.”

Wentz’s come­back comes

with in­ter­est­ing cir­cum­stances: He has no pres­sure to re­turn right away be­cause the Ea­gles can lean on the Su­per Bowl MVP to start the sea­son. And that’s not nec­es­sar­ily a threat to Wentz, whose friend­ship with Foles doesn’t have the strain seen in other famed NFL tandems like Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers or Joe Mon­tana and Steve Young.

“We’ve be­come so close ever since he first got here,” Wentz said. “De­vel­oped a real friend­ship, a real re­la­tion­ship, more than just a work­ing re­la­tion­ship, a true friend­ship.”

Wentz ad­mits it was dif­fi­cult to see some­one else hoist the Vince Lom­bardi Tro­phy on stage first. But the two quar­ter­backs are more like brothers than com­peti­tors for the start­ing job.

“It’s hu­man na­ture to want to be on that podium and be the guy,” Wentz said. “You grow up want­ing to be there, but not be­ing able to be up there, there’s no­body I’d rather have up there than Nick.”

Ea­gles coach Doug Ped­er­son has made it clear there’s no quar­ter­back con­tro­versy in Philadel­phia since the minute Foles fin­ished a sen­sa­tional per­for­mance in the 41-33 win over the Pa­tri­ots. When he’s healthy, Wentz is the guy. He’s the face of the fran­chise.

“I still be­lieve this is Car­son’s team,” Ped­er­son said Tues­day. “There are no egos in­volved. They’re in this thing to­gether. Both sup­port each other. Nick sup­ported Car­son dur­ing the sea­son last year, and then Car­son turned around and sup­ported Nick at the end of the year.

“Their re­la­tion­ship has car­ried over into this spring and sum­mer, and it’s re­ally good. I see them work­ing in the class­room. I see them work­ing on the field. They keep talk­ing. They want to get bet­ter in­di­vid­u­ally. They want to get our team bet­ter. And so it’s been a re­ally good, re­ally good dy­namic be­tween those two.”

Foles has main­tained since he re­placed Wentz last De­cem­ber that he un­der­stands his role is the backup. He wants to start again in the NFL, but was happy to stay in Philadel­phia.

“I’ve shown what I can do,” Foles said. “I love the team and I love the city. I’m ex­cited for Car­son to get back.”

While he was fo­cused on re­hab­bing and re­turn­ing to the field as quickly as pos­si­ble, Wentz pur­sued other in­ter­ests dur­ing the off­sea­son. He went to Haiti for the sec­ond time in less than a year in April — team­mates Zach Ertz, Nate Sud­feld and Rashard Davis joined him — and launched plans for his Au­di­ence of One Foun­da­tion to build a sports com­plex in that coun­try.

Wentz then held the in­au­gu­ral AO1 Foun­da­tion char­ity soft­ball game at the home of the Philadel­phia Phillies on June 1, draw­ing more than 25,000 fans who came out to see the Su­per Bowl champs com­pete in a home run derby — left guard Ste­fen Wis­niewski was the win­ner with a fan­tas­tic power dis­play — and a game that fea­tured Foles and 23 other Ea­gles.

“The brother­hood we have on this team, we’re so close,” Wentz said. “We gen­uinely care about each other.

“A lot of un­selfish play­ers. To see these guys come out (to sup­port me) is so hum­bling.”

As­so­ci­Ated Press

Philadel­phia Ea­gles quar­ter­back Car­son Wentz, right, throws the ball to wide re­ceiver Mack Hollins, left, dur­ing prac­tice Wed­nes­day at

the team’s train­ing fa­cil­ity in Philadel­phia.

Wentz is pro­gress­ing ahead of sched­ule in his re­turn from a torn ACL suf­fered late last

sea­son.

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