Earlier in the week, Carson Wentz was reported to have a vague “back issue” that likely would keep him out for this week’s Eagles-Rams game and possibly longer. Thursday brought more clarity — and a greater probability that Philadelphia’s talented young quarterback could miss the rest of the season.
According to multiple reports, Wentz was discovered to have a fractured vertebra. The exact location and severity of the injury are as yet unknown, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that surgery was not expected to be necessary.
However, Wentz will need to get plenty of rest to heal and if the Eagles lose to the heavily favored Rams on Sunday, they would fall to 6-8 with two games left to play and almost no shot at the playoffs. In that case, Philadelphia would have little incentive to jeopardize Wentz’s health any further, although Rapoport noted that the team is still trying to determine if he can worsen the injury by playing.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Wentz “will seek outside medical advice” going forward, which could indicate a level of dissatisfaction with the Eagles’ training staff. Wentz was listed as limited for two weeks in October but soon returned to full practices and CT scans performed on him before Thursday, per Rapoport, had failed to reveal the fracture.
Nick Foles, Wentz’s backup and the MVP of February’s Super Bowl triumph over the Patriots, is expected to start this week. As fate would have it, Wentz severely injured his left knee in a win over the Rams barely over a year ago, putting Foles in the lineup with three regular season games left.
At that point, though, Philadelphia was 11-2 and well on its way to winning the NFC East and home-field advantage in the conference playoffs. This year’s club has a much gloomier outlook in terms of its postseason chances, and could also be facing questions about the durability of Wentz, who also suffered a rib injury as a rookie and plays with a physical, athletic style.
Less concerned about the third-year quarterback’s mental state was Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who said Thursday (via ESPN), “Carson, he’s going to handle it like a champ. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he’s the best young quarterback in the league. He was even playing at a high level with what he was dealing with. And I don’t know if you know, going through reads, it helps to have a healthy back."
“With this situation right now, sitting down, I don’t think it has affected his confidence at all,” Matthews added of Wentz. “He knows who he is, he knows what he brings to the table and he knows what he means to this team. It just sucks that he can’t play right now.”
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft — behind only Rams quarterback Jared Goff — Wentz blossomed in his second season, finishing third in the AP’s MVP voting despite playing just 13 games before injuring his knee. This season, he greatly improved his completion percentage, going from 60.2 in 2017 to 69.6, but his high touchdown percentage of 7.5 predictably fell to a still-respectable 5.2 while his QBR dropped from 77.2 to 64.9.
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