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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Carson Wentz breaks rib, likely out for rest of preseason

By Jack McCaffery
@JackMcCaffery on Twitter
PHILADELPHIA >> Carson Wentz did not make it through his first Eagles game without an issue.
After not throwing a pass in a morning practice Saturday at the NovaCare Complex, the rookie quarterback was diagnosed with a “hairline fracture in his ribs,” according to the Eagles.
The Eagles did not specify when Wentz could return to football, though Doug Pederson hinted that it could be before the end of the preseason.
Earlier, the Birds' head coach did not seem concerned that Wentz was complaining of pain on his right-side ribs, indicating that the quarterback would participate in practice Sunday. But Wentz retreated to the locker room and sent word through the Eagles' communications staff that he would not be available for comment.
Later, the Birds released this statement from Pederson: “Carson felt some discomfort and soreness as we began this morning’s practice. We decided to limit him throughout the remainder of practice and, as a precaution, sent him for a CT scan after practice. The scan revealed a hairline fracture in his ribs. We do not know an exact timetable for his return, but we hope to have him back before the end of the preseason.”
Wentz completed 12 of 24 passes for 89 yards and rush three times for 15 yards in his Eagles preseason debut.
“If you were watching the game the other night, he took a shot,” Pederson said. “It was around the next-to-last play. He got up a little slow. So he is just sore today. We just wanted to protect him, so he didn’t throw.”
Wentz was not expected to play much, if at all, for the Eagles this season. Rather, he was to develop while learning from Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. The injury could compromise his early, training-camp development.
“It bothered him to throw a little bit,” Pederson said earlier Saturday. “But he’s fine.”
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Bradford pocketed $11 million to sign last offseason with the Eagles, the first payment on a contract that could be worth up to $36 million.
He was just thinking out loud Saturday, but he figures they probably expect him to appear in more than three plays a game.
After joking with reporters that he would take as much time as necessary analyzing all three of the plays he ran, two of them handoffs, in the Birds’ preseason opener, Bradford acknowledged that he will play substantially longer in the next game, Thursday in Pittsburgh.
“We really haven’t talked about that a lot,” he said. “I am sure in the next couple days we will go over that. I’m assuming we will play quite a bit over the next couple of games. I think it will be great for us to get out there and establish a little bit of a rhythm, get into some more game situations, try to simulate what we are going to see in Week 1 and just try to get some live action.”
Though the Eagles must certainly see Bradford for more than three plays against the Steelers, Pederson is committed to spreading the quarterback playing-time around.
“We are staying equal,” he said, before learning of Wentz's cracked rib, “with all three.”
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With Lane Johnson almost certain to miss the Birds’ first 10 regular-season games due to a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs, Pederson is adapting. Saturday, he used Allen Barbre at Johnson’s right-tackle spot, dropping Johnson to the second team.
“He’s played there, No. 1,” the coach said of Barbre. “It’s been more left tackle than right, but he’s been there in the past. I love his athleticism. He’s a smart guy out there.”
Left tackle Jason Peters was back Saturday after missing the preseason opener with a quad injury. Pederson experimented with multiple combinations throughout the practice, which unfolded in 96-degree heat.
“Obviously, you got ‘Big V’ (Halapoulivaati Vaitai) sitting right there,” the head coach said. “Of course, Jason Peters is on the left side. Matt Tobin can play both sides, and he played well the other night in limited reps.
“But it’s a situation where this is the time. Once you get kind of through that first game, you start shuffling your roster a little bit.”
Pederson was not committing to any particular alignment.
“What happens if Jason Peters goes down during the regular season, or Jason Kelce goes down during the regular season?” he said. “I just want to see different guys at those spots. In order to do that you’ve got to take time now, this week in camp, to get that accomplished.”
He feels he will.
“I’m looking for five tough, dirty, nasty guys that want to go out and just play football,” he said. “I don’t care which five it is, but we’re going to find the best five and the right five. And I feel like we’ve got them here on the team.”
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NOTES: Malcolm Jenkins (quad), Wendell Smallwood (quad) and Marcus Smith (concussion) practiced, if on a limited basis, Saturday … Brandon Brooks, who left the Tampa Bay game early with a biceps issue, is back. Pederson: “He’s fine.” …  After a tape review, Pederson touted Fletcher Cox and Jaylen Watkins for their performances against the Bucs … Pederson said he would take the Birds indoors for a walk-through Saturday and a similar exercise Sunday morning. Sunday night at 7, the Birds’ practice in the Linc will be open to the public. Admission is free.


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