PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz was so impressive in the film room and on the practice field that he earned a promotion from No. 3 quarterback to starter.
Time to show his stuff in actual games.
The No. 2 overall draft pick will make his NFL debut Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles host the Cleveland Browns.
Wentz threw 24 passes in the preseason before he injured his ribs and missed the last three games. Still, he was elevated to No. 1 after the Eagles traded Sam Bradford to Minnesota.
“The things that we saw in practice, just the plays that he has been able to make, the plays going against even our starting defense, just the way he has handled things, the way he calls plays in the huddle, the way he can just spit out the verbiage, his athleticism, the way he can move and scramble and make some plays with his legs, I just felt so comfortable putting him in this spot,” rookie coach Doug Pederson said.
Wentz will face a team that passed up a chance to draft him by trading the pick to Philadelphia.
“That is all in the past,” Wentz said. “I’m excited I’m here in Philadelphia, and I’m ready to go for Week 1.”
Robert Griffin III will play his first game since 2014 and becomes the 25th quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999. RG3 is trying to resurrect his career in Cleveland after a difficult finish in Washington.
“Just excited to go out and play with these guys,” Griffin said. “We have an opportunity to do something special.”
Here are some things to know about the Browns-Eagles matchup:
PROTECTING WENTZ: The projected starting offensive line will be out there for the Eagles, led by eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters and right tackle Lane Johnson, who said last month he’s expecting a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Left guard Allen Barbre, center Jason Kelce and right guard Brandon Brooks round out the line.
“We’ve been communicating and working together cohesively since the spring, so we expect to go out and there and play well, have success,” Kelce said. “It doesn’t matter who the starting quarterback is. We have to do our jobs and keep him clean. That doesn’t change. But, sure, it’s great that we’re all together for this game.”
WIN-WIN: The Browns own Philadelphia’s first-round pick in 2017 as part of the trade for No. 2, so beating the Eagles is a double win because they want them to finish as low as possible in the standings.
NEW DEFENSE DEBUTS: After playing three seasons in a 3-4 system, the Eagles have switched to a 4-3 scheme under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. The unit showed flashes of dominance in the preseason, and the front four led by Fletcher Cox have potential to wreak havoc, harass quarterbacks and force turnovers.
WOEPENERS: The Browns have lost an NFL-record 11 straight openers. They’re 1-16 in Week 1 since their expansion rebirth in 1999, with their only win coming against Baltimore in 2004 under coach Butch Davis. Seven of those 16 losses have come by five points or less, and includes a 17-16 defeat against the Eagles in 2012.
LOOKING BACK: Pederson has history with the Browns. He became their third starting quarterback following Cleveland’s return to the league when he replaced an injured Tim Couch in 2000. Pederson led the Browns to a 19-11 win over New England, snapping a seven-game losing streak and giving Cleveland its only win in the final 13 games.
“It was almost like a relief, a weight, a burden off your shoulders,” Pederson said this week. “It was exciting obviously to get that win finally and just sort of the excitement that the guys felt walking off of that field, because I remember, too, that team that year was decimated with injury and there were a lot of new faces in Cleveland.”
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