PHILADELPHIA >> One day into training camp, life got a little more awkward for Nick Foles and Carson Wentz.
While management says that the Eagles are Wentz’s team, there’s no question the offense belongs to Foles. Wentz couldn’t run it better Thursday, although in all fairness, he was with the second team. Thankfully, he didn’t reinjure his left knee trying to haul in one of Isaac Seumalo’s wild shotgun snaps.
Super Bowl LII MVP Foles, except for a couple of modest mistakes, still looked the part taking all of the first-team snaps. There were a couple of run-pass option plays where Foles used such deception to fool the defense that you had to hold the applause. It was sick, Philly-Philly stuff.
Sure, it was the first day of basically a meaningless camp for the defending champs. The vets all have marked Sept. 6 on their calendars. Nonetheless, if you subtract the careless pick-six Foles threw to Rasul Douglas, he did just about all you could do with a unit that had pre-snap issues. He was starter worthy, and then some.
Wentz, in a new lightweight protective brace, showed no evidence of the ACL and LCL tears he blew out last December at the Los Angeles Coliseum. He functioned well in the 11-on-11’s. You really didn’t want to be that misguided national “insider” who wrote that the Eagles were strongly considering putting Wentz on the PUP list to start camp.
The plan is for Wentz at some point to get snaps with the first-team offense. At least that’s the way he understands it.
Pederson already is dreading the spin it will take to explain why he’s taking the ball away from Foles.
“Right now, I’m not concerned with the first, second, third team,” Pederson said after practice. “It’s just how we rotate the offensive lines pretty much. There is probably going to be a day where (Wentz is) in there with the ones, so I’m not going to get caught up in the reps and who is getting what. It’s too early.”
When practice was over Thursday, the quarterbacks went to the media tent. Separately, of course. Foles spoke first. It sure sounded like the Eagles were his team, at least to the folks who have been through a ton of Birds’ training camps.
The big issue — and the Eagles knew this day was approaching — is that it’s ridiculous to consider Foles a backup. The guy looks and sounds like he’s ready to outduel Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots again. But with Wentz, who was bidding to win the regular season MVP last year, what can you call Foles?
“No one knows my label,” Foles said. “It’s sort of been that way for a long time. And I’ve said it before, I don’t really care. I know that I love my teammates, I love this city, I love playing for these coaches, and whatever they need of me I’m going to give them everything I’ve got. And that’s how I play the game.
“You don’t need to come out and say ‘hey, you’re the starter, you’re the backup, whatever.’ You’re going to get me. That’s it. It doesn’t affect me. If that affects me, I’ve probably got some issues I’ve got to deal with.”
Foles obviously is overflowing with confidence. He’s been touted by various and sundry scribes as the second-best quarterback in the NFC East. That got me thinking (and you know how dangerous that can be): If Foles quarterbacked the New York Giants, would they win the NFC East this season? The Washington Redskins? The hated Dallas Cowboys?
Wentz, on the other hand, is looking forward to his next contact.
“That’s the next step, the next goal,” Wentz said. “We’ll just progress with really how I feel, how it reacts, what coaches are wanting and trainers and everything. It’s hard to play the ‘what if’ game but for now we’ll just stay the course and see how I feel. It feels great.
“Obviously, it was a limited number of reps today but it felt great just to be back out there, be under center, be with the guys again.”
Make no mistake, Foles was elated to be back at quarterback of the team he led to the world championship. The one chronicled in his book, “Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure and Overcoming the Odds.” The team he spoke of on the national media circuit, from the Jimmy Kimmel Show to Good Morning America to Books-A-Million in the Springfield Mall.
Playing quarterback obviously is a lot more fun than telling everybody he doesn’t know why Brady didn’t congratulate him after the big game. You can label Brady. Superstar crybaby sure fits.
You can’t do the same with Foles. Not after what he’s done, and what he might do.
“I’m going to go out there, I’m going to sling the ball, I’m going to have trust in my teammates, I’m going to step in that huddle,” Foles said. “I love playing with those guys. It’s so much fun just stepping in the huddle, seeing their eyes and going out there and playing ball. And that’s what I’m going to focus on.”
It’s getting awkward around here.
In a few months we’ll know if that’s a good thing.
Contact Bob Grotz at firstname.lastname@example.org;. Follow him on Twitter @bobgrotz.