Wentz excited for return as Eagles host Reich, Colts
The Philadelphia Eagles will welcome the return of a familiar face in franchise quarterback Carson Wentz on Sunday when they encounter another one in Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts.
Wentz admitted that he'll likely be emotional when he heads out of the tunnel at Lincoln Financial Field. The 25-year-old, who finished second in touchdown passes (33) last season, will be playing in his first game since tearing his ACL and LCL in a Dec. 10 contest against the Los Angeles Rams.
"I just want to pick up where we left off last year," Wentz said. "We had a lot of big plays last year when we were in situational football. Third down, red zone, things we really excelled in last year. Those are things we want to keep building on. ... At the end of the day, I, and really this whole offense and this whole organization, always have high expectations. We expect to start fast, play fast, be clicking."
The Eagles (1-1) weren't clicking on offense with Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Nick Foles under center, as the team has scored a combined 39 points this season after dropping a 27-21 decision against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Foles has thrown for just 451 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the first two games.
Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson knows that Wentz will be amped heading into Sunday's contest.
"It's a home game, his first start, there's going to be emotions regardless," Pederson said. "I can talk to him until Sunday, kickoff, and there's always going to be that high emotion and anticipation taking the field. You kind of want him to experience that and what that feels like. It's kind of like his first start again a couple years ago. It'll be a good feeling. It'll be good for our city, it'll be good for our team, obviously."
Emotions could also be high for Reich, who returns to the city where he helped deliver the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history. Reich, who was the Eagles' offensive coordinator for the past two years, is now Andrew Luck's head coach in Indianapolis.
"(Wentz and Luck) are both incredibly dynamic players, physically dominant at their position, elite in their leadership ability, elite intelligence, it's just rare for a guy to have all those attributes and I think they both do," Reich said.
"When Carson came out, that was the one guy -- Andrew was the one guy -- that there were some parallels there. It's just interesting now in their journeys that they have both had to overcome serious injury and that I think makes great players better. It stinks going through it but in the long run it makes them better."
Luck has rebounded from sitting out the entire 2017 season due to an injured shoulder to throw two touchdown passes in both games this season. The quarterback, however, was limited to just 179 yards and had two interceptions on Sunday, although the Colts (1-1) posted a 21-9 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Luck will look to exploit Philadelphia's 28th-ranked pass defense that was torched by Tampa Bay's Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. Four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Eric Ebron have each reeled in touchdown passes in both contests this season.
The Colts' rushing game, however, will face the Eagles' top-ranked defense against the run. Jordan Wilkins had 61 yards rushing against the Redskins on Sunday while fellow rookie Nyheim Hines had his first career rushing touchdown.
Speaking of backfields, Philadelphia's running back situation is clouded as Jay Ajayi (league high-tying three rushing touchdowns) was limited in Week 2 with a back injury and is considered day-to-day by Pederson. Darren Sproles could be in jeopardy of missing his second straight game with an ailing hamstring, forcing the team to promote fellow running back Josh Adams from the practice squad.
Corey Clement could see the bulk of the work in the backfield against the Colts after recording 85 scrimmage yards and a touchdown last week.
Clement and company could see an awful lot of Indianapolis linebacker Darius Leonard, who was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording 18 total tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one pass breakup on Sunday.
"I say we are like on a roller coaster coming down hill, it's kind of hard to stop," Leonard said. "So I think the defense just kind of wants that snowball effect, just wants to keep stacking up everything and just want to match their effort from last week."
Updated September 20, 2018