PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When Sam Bradford was traded, there was speculation the Eagles veterans may not be happy to see a rookie step in at quarterback. Instead, Carson Wentz has become the big man on the Eagles campus.
Players continue to rally around Wentz as they prepare for their regular season opener against the Browns on Sunday. Wentz’s work ethic as well as his skills have received high praise, and Head Coach Doug Pederson says the rookie will be ready for his first NFL start.
“He pays attention to detail,” said Pederson. “The biggest thing for any quarterback, particularly a rookie quarterback, in the first game is how well you can control your emotions early in the football game and the nervousness and all of that and just kind of settle into the football game. Of course, we can help him as coaches in that regard. At the same time, he’s looking forward to it. We are excited for him to get this chapter of not only his career but our career together off the ground on Sunday.”
Wentz is likely the most excited person in the Eagles locker room. In a span of less than a week, Wentz went from a third-string quarterback recovering from a rib injury to the starting quarterback on opening day. Wentz is still adjusting to the sudden change in his rookie season, but is confident he will be ready when the Browns come to town on Sunday.
“Things changed around here pretty quickly,” Wentz said. “I think there were a lot of people who were surprised. Now, it is just move forward. I’m ready for my turn. I’m excited for it. This team is ready to go for their first game. There is a lot of excitement around here.”
Wentz as well as his teammates understand there will be bumps in the road during his rookie year. Even the top rookie quarterbacks make their share of mistakes during their first season in the NFL. Tight End Brent Celek believes Wentz’s teammates can make the rookie’s job easier by playing at a high level throughout the 2016 campaign.
“We just need to elevate our game and help him in any way possible.” said Celek. “Be at the right place at the right time so he can rely on us.”
Despite Wentz’s confidence, it will be easy to understand if the rookie may have butterflies as kickoff approaches. Pederson can understand what Wentz will be going through after experiencing the same emotions as a player, and expects to have similar emotions on Sunday.
“It’s just human nature,” Pederson said. “My butterflies will be going, too. It’s my first game as well, so butterflies will be going. You get past that one, two, three plays into the game and it settles in. It’s football from there.”