Carson Wentz lunged to his right and then backpedaled to avoid a rush. After darting forward again, he quickly rolled to his right and took off down the sideline at full speed.
The only reminder Saturday that the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback was returning from knee surgery was the brace attached his left leg.
“Obviously he’s got some of that Kobe Bryant (stuff) in his knee,” defensive end Michael Bennett said with a smile, referring to the offseason knee treatment in Germany the NBA great used to receive. “He probably went to Germany or Switzerland or some (stuff), because he’s looking really good out there.”
How upbeat were the Eagles after Wentz went through 11-on-11 drills with the starters at the first padded practice of training camp? Coach Doug Peterson interrupted new offensive coordinator Mike Groh’s press conference with the key question for the Super Bowl champions.
“I know you don’t want to put a timetable on Carson, but what’s your timetable?” Pederson asked, smirking.
“Great question,” Groh said.
Wentz sure looked close to ready, if not already there, during a humid morning practice. Barely seven months removed from tearing the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee, Wentz participated in full team drills without limitations. While he tossed two interceptions, he drew rave reviews from his teammates and coaches for his arm strength, accuracy and mobility.
“He’s in the right frame of mind. He’s making some good throws,” Groh said. “As you can see, we’re pretty good on defense. Those guys are making it challenging for us on offense, particularly early, first day in pads.”
Wentz dazzled in 13 games last season, throwing for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. The Eagles led the NFL in scoring and were 11-2 after Wentz went down on Dec. 10.
Behind backup Nick Foles, the Eagles went on to win their first NFL title. But it’s clear that even though Foles was the Super Bowl MVP, Wentz will become the starter again when he’s ready.
“When you’re rehabbing something, it’s not an exponential line. It’s not you’re slowly getting better and then you rapidly accelerate,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “There’s going to be times in training camp probably where he doesn’t feel great or his knee doesn’t feel great and they’ll back him off.”
Because of that, the Eagles remain tight-lipped about whether they expect Wentz under center for the season opener Sept. 6 against Atlanta. It’s also uncertain if he’ll appear in a preseason game. Wentz didn’t speak to reporters after the 2 1/2-hour workout.
“To have everybody out there, Carson there, in some people’s minds is ahead of schedule,” Groh said. “But I know this was his target date. So we’re happy to have him out there working. It’s only going to make everybody better.”
NOTES: With several receivers banged up and not practicing, including Alshon Jeffery and Bryce Treggs, the Eagles signed WR DeAndre Carter. The move gives the Eagles the maximum 90 players. … The team displayed the Lombardi Trophy in a glass case outside the practice fields, allowing fans to snap pictures while standing next to it.