If you watched the Eagles in 2018 and didn't think Carson Wentz looked like he was back to his MVP-level form after returning from a torn ACL and LCL in less than 10 months, you're not alone.
Wentz didn't feel like he was back all the way either.
"It's a process. As far as injury prevention, I felt great, I felt confident, all those things," Wentz said in front of a small group of reporters last Thursday. "But as far as being explosive, and all those things, I never quite - and I'm not going to use it as an excuse, by any means - but I watched the tape from two years ago, you watched last year. You can see, I just wasn't quite there with mobility stuff and that's something that I'll just keep working through.
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"And everyone kind of says it's an 18-month, two-year thing to get really feeling strong again and back to normal. It's getting better and it's going to keep getting better. I don't think we'll worry about hopefully either of these injuries going forward."
At times during the 2018 season, we saw glimpses of the guy who was well on his way to winning the MVP trophy in his second season, but overall, he wasn't as explosive. He didn't make as many "wow" plays with his legs. And, really, we probably all should have expected it.
In August, I chatted with former NFL quarterback Carson Palmer, who returned from two severe ACL tears during his pro career (see story). And his words began to echo in my head this season, when I realized Wentz didn't quite look like the same guy.
Here's what Palmer said to me in the summer:
"It's all a feel thing. That confidence comes from how it feels to step into a throw or how it feels to really push off and explode off of that leg. It takes 18 months to where your knee feels somewhat normal again. It takes two years until you can't really tell that you had surgery on it. So that first year, it just doesn't feel right."
That was just the reality of Wentz's 2018 season.
And Wentz, just after the season ended, said he couldn't rule out that the stress fracture in his back was somehow connected to playing with a surgically repaired left knee.
It's not that Wentz rushed back, either. There's a difference between being healthy enough to play, to the point of not risking further injury and being 100 percent back to how things were before the injury. Nine and a half months wasn't enough time to get to that point. The hope is that come the start of the 2019 season, around 21 months from the initial knee injury, Wentz will be closer to his old self.
For now, Wentz is still nursing that back fracture. He basically is just waiting for it to heal before resuming football activities, but his plan is to be ready for spring workouts in a couple months. Doug Pederson initially said the timeframe was three months to completely heal. That would put him around mid-March.
"I'm excited," Wentz said. "I'm excited to put all this behind me, the injuries, and do everything I can just to be healthy, stay healthy and get back in this driver's seat. I'm excited for where this team's at."
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