2018 Eagles Training Camp Preview - The Injured Vets

JEFF FUSCO/PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE

JEFF FUSCO/PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE

Matt Finocchio - Head Writer

Football is back!

Ok, not really…but NFL training camps kick-off this week, with the Eagle’s first full-team practice taking place tomorrow, July 26th.  I know it’s not the home opener at the Linc, but after watching nothing but baseball highlights for the past two months, I’m ready for some football.

As we all know, the Eagles won the Super Bowl despite losing several critical players to injury. With that in mind, here are the "injured vets" I’ll be watching during camp.

Carson Wentz: Ok, this first one is obvious; All eyes will be on Carson Wentz as he recovers from the torn ACL he suffered back in December.

In OTAs and minicamp this spring, every glance we got of Wentz pointed to a successful recovery. He’s been moving with the quickness that we’ve all come to expect and has not looked hampered by his new accessory; a large brace on his left knee. By all accounts, Wentz has recovered beautifully and is on track to start week one. But before we get too ahead of ourselves thinking about the Eagle’s opener, let’s just appreciate the fact training camp will be our first chance to really see Wentz back in action. Up until this point, we’ve only seen some basic agility/throwing drills.

To that point, it will be interesting to see how quickly Wentz jumps into 11-on-11 action as there has been talk that he will probably be limited the first few days. Thankfully, as we saw during his rookie training camp, Wentz doesn’t need much practice to perform well in the season opener; If you recall, he suffered a broken rib his first pre-season game and didn’t play again until week one.

Regardless of how much he participates, I don’t expect much rust from Carson. After watching the Super Bowl from the sidelines, I’m sure he is eager to prove he’s still the top dog on this team (not that anyone is doubting that).

Darren Sproles: Prior to getting hurt in week three of last year, Sproles was still one of the most explosive players in the game. At 35 years old and entering his self-proclaimed final season of his career, many people will be wondering if he has anything left in the tank. Running backs in their mid-thirties coming off injuries rarely return to form; however, I think Sproles is an exception to the rule.

I still expect him to be a playmaker in the punt return game and to be a nice change-of-pace option for the offense. With Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement getting the majority offensive snaps, I expect Sproles to get 6-10 touches per game, keeping him fresh (and effective) throughout the season.

During training camp, I’ll be looking for Sproles to showcase his Super Mario-like speed. Fingers crossed he’s still got it.

Jason Peters: Similar to Sproles, Peters is...well…old. Okay, not for life, but for football. At 36, he’s the team’s oldest player. Thankfully for the Eagles, Halapoulivaati Vaitai (aka Big V) filled in quite nicely for Peters last year and proved that he can be a starter. From the Eagle’s perspective, getting Peters back is just icing on the cake.

I’m hoping he come back and plays like the Pro-Bowler he is, but if he gets injured again, Big V will be waiting to jump into service.

Jordan Hicks: Hicks just finished his third season in the NFL. Two out of those three seasons have ended with Hicks on injured reserve, with his most recent injury being a ruptured Achilles.

When healthy, Hicks is a great all-around linebacker and leader of the defense. There’s not much else to say about him aside from asking every Birds fan out there to pray for a healthy season. If he can navigate 2018 unscathed, I think he can make the pro-bowl.

To Recap:

  1. Carson will be fine. Don’t rush him and don’t freak out if he’s limited in camp. I expect him to ball out week one and you should too.
  2. Darren Sproles isn’t a normal 35-year-old man. He’s a freak athlete. Drew Brees named him as an early contender for comeback player of the year and I couldn’t agree more (provided Andrew Luck’s mysterious shoulder issue to continues).
  3. The return of Jason Peters will be awesome, but worst-case scenario, Big V will get the job done.
  4. A healthy Jordan Hicks is an awesome Jordan Hicks.
  5. When you think about the Eagles winning the Super Bowl last year without Wentz, Sproles, Peters and Hicks (okay, let’s give Chris Maragos some love as well), it really is remarkable that they pulled it off. Repeating as Super Bowl champs is extremely rare, but this Birds team is uniquely set up to do just that. If they were able to win it all without these guys, they certainly can win it all again with them.
  6. Go birds.