The Philadelphia Eagles will welcome the return of a familiar face
in franchise quarterback Carson Wentz on Sunday when they encounter
another one in Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts.
Wentz admitted that he’ll likely be emotional when he heads out of
the tunnel at Lincoln Financial Field. The 25-year-old, who
finished second in touchdown passes (33) last season, will be
playing in his first game since tearing his ACL and LCL in a Dec.
10 contest against the Los Angeles Rams.
“I just want to pick up where we left off last year,” Wentz said.
“We had a lot of big plays last year when we were in situational
football. Third down, red zone, things we really excelled in last
year. Those are things we want to keep building on. … At the end
of the day, I, and really this whole offense and this whole
organization, always have high expectations. We expect to start
fast, play fast, be clicking.”
The Eagles (1-1) weren’t clicking on offense with Super Bowl Most
Valuable Player Nick Foles under center, as the team has scored a
combined 39 points this season after dropping a 27-21 decision
against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Foles has thrown for
just 451 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the first
Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson knows that Wentz will be amped
heading into Sunday’s contest.
“It’s a home game, his first start, there’s going to be emotions
regardless,” Pederson said. “I can talk to him until Sunday,
kickoff, and there’s always going to be that high emotion and
anticipation taking the field. You kind of want him to experience
that and what that feels like. It’s kind of like his first start
again a couple years ago. It’ll be a good feeling. It’ll be good
for our city, it’ll be good for our team, obviously.”
Emotions could also be high for Reich, who returns to the city
where he helped deliver the first Super Bowl championship in
franchise history. Reich, who was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator
for the past two years, is now Andrew Luck’s head coach in
“(Wentz and Luck) are both incredibly dynamic players, physically
dominant at their position, elite in their leadership ability,
elite intelligence, it’s just rare for a guy to have all those
attributes and I think they both do,” Reich said.
“When Carson came out, that was the one guy — Andrew was the one
guy — that there were some parallels there. It’s just interesting
now in their journeys that they have both had to overcome serious
injury and that I think makes great players better. It stinks going
through it but in the long run it makes them better.”
Luck has rebounded from sitting out the entire 2017 season due to
an injured shoulder to throw two touchdown passes in both games
this season. The quarterback, however, was limited to just 179
yards and had two interceptions on Sunday, although the Colts (1-1)
posted a 21-9 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Luck will look to exploit Philadelphia’s 28th-ranked pass defense
that was torched by Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was named the
NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.
Four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Eric
Ebron have each reeled in touchdown passes in both contests this
The Colts’ rushing game, however, will face the Eagles’ top-ranked
defense against the run. Jordan Wilkins had 61 yards rushing
against the Redskins on Sunday while fellow rookie Nyheim Hines had
his first career rushing touchdown.
Speaking of backfields, Philadelphia’s running back situation is
clouded as Jay Ajayi (league high-tying three rushing touchdowns)
was limited in Week 2 with a back injury and is considered
day-to-day by Pederson. Darren Sproles could be in jeopardy of
missing his second straight game with an ailing hamstring, forcing
the team to promote fellow running back Josh Adams from the
Corey Clement could see the bulk of the work in the backfield
against the Colts after recording 85 scrimmage yards and a
touchdown last week.
Clement and company could see an awful lot of Indianapolis
linebacker Darius Leonard, who was named the AFC Defensive Player
of the Week after recording 18 total tackles, one sack, one forced
fumble and one pass breakup on Sunday.
“I say we are like on a roller coaster coming down hill, it’s kind
of hard to stop,” Leonard said. “So I think the defense just kind
of wants that snowball effect, just wants to keep stacking up
everything and just want to match their effort from last week.”