Doug Pederson doesn’t have an answer as of yet on whether or not quarterback Carson Wentz will get any snaps in Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans at Lincoln Financial Field.
“We are still working through a bunch of stuff,” said the Eagles head coach when he met with reporters following Tuesday’s practice. “We have a lot of bodies we want to see in this game so we haven’t made a determination yet.”
Wentz hasn’t played a game since his season was shut down on Dec. 9 after a 29-23 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
“I’ll be ready either way,” Wentz told reporters on Tuesday when asked if he thought he would play or not.
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One player Pederson said he wants to see plenty of, and not only on Thursday, but in all four preseason games, is Wentz’s backup, Nate Sudfeld.
“I think it can be a really good indication (on how well Sudfeld can play if called upon in the regular season),” said Pederson. “Now, the goal would be to get him as much time as we can behind center in these four games. I don't want him to feel like there's any kind of pressure but there's always pressure to just go perform and just play.
“He's very comfortable with the offense. I think by cutting it down, too, the volume of information, even for a guy that's been here, can help, when you cut the volume down. I want to see him just manage the team, manage the offense, execute the offense, get us in the end zone, and do the things that he's capable of doing, and I think that there kind of shows what he can do possibly in the regular season.”
If Pederson’s previous preseason history is any indication there won’t be much to see of Wentz or any of his expected starters in August. The previous two years he didn’t have them on the field together for any more than a dozen or so snaps.
“You look around at other teams and what other teams have done in the preseason, I take all that information in,” said Pederson. “I look at how our team practices during the week. Our starters, they get most of the reps in practice. I've got to look at all that have and that's why I haven't really made a decision yet. Outside of the guys that are nicked and hurt and won't play.
“But there's a fine line between how much rest and how much push, and so that's the thing we're working through right now. But I'm taking all that into consideration going into this first game.”
Who you won’t see are the injured, including defensive end Joe Ostman, whose season was ended on Tuesday when he was placed on Injured Reserve after tearing the ACL in his left knee during Sunday night’s open practice at the Linc. The Eagles added defensive end/linebacker Kasim Edabli to the roster.
This will be Edibali’s eighth teams since entering the league as an undrafted free agent signing by the New Orleans Saints in 2014 out of Boston College. He is originally from Germany and has eight sacks in his career.
In another move, the Eagles signed cornerback Ajene Harris and waived/injured offensive lineman Casey Tucker.
Asked if there were one or two position groups Pederson was anxious to see, he said: “Really, all of them. We are evaluating everybody. It's not just one position. I think as we get deeper into camp, we can focus more on certain guys or certain positions. But right now in this first game with a lot of opportunity for a lot of guys, we are just evaluating the whole team. Kind of seeing where we're at after two weeks.”
The coach said that Halapoulivaati Vaitai will likely see extended time at right guard, a new position he is manning until such time Brandon Brooks is 100 percent recovered from January’s torn Achilles.
Another offensive lineman expected to play a ton is Jordan Mailata, who is learning how to play right tackle after spending his rookie season learning left tackle.
As for veterans like DeSean Jackson, Darren Sproles, Jason Peters and Malcolm Jenkins to name a few, the only way you may see their numbers will be on the backs of fans’ jerseys.
“That's the fine line with all your starters or the guys you project for the opening day roster (to balance keeping them healthy with getting them reps to be sharper for opening day),” said Pederson. “You know, but again, someone (like Jackson) who has not worked with Carson and if it's an opportunity, great. These are things we're going to work through and we'll find out Thursday.”