Carson Wentz Ready to Earn Respect After 1st Practice With Eagles

At 1:03 p.m. on Friday, with helmet in hand and wearing his bright red No. 11 jersey, Carson Wentz walked out of the NovaCare Complex and into the light-falling rain.

The 23-year-old, whom the Eagles hope will be the future of the franchise, took several steps before breaking out into a jog as he worked his way toward the indoor bubble for his first practice as a Philadelphia Eagle.

The sound of his cleats smacking against the asphalt in the parking lot grew louder as he picked up momentum and ran past several reporters. One reporter joked Wentz nearly knocked him over while trying to make it to his first practice. Without stopping, Wentz turned around and flashed a smile before disappearing through the side door, into his first taste of NFL action.

"I'm very antsy," Wentz said about 25 minutes earlier. "The draft process was a long waiting game and to finally be out here today, I'll be out on the field in about an hour. I'll go and hopefully compete and have some fun."

After a brief stay in Philadelphia following the draft, Wentz flew back to North Dakota for two weeks. Because of the North Dakota State academic schedule, he was instructed to stay away from the Eagles' facility until he flew back into town this week.

The two-week span gave the quarterback a chance to decompress following the whirlwind of the NFL draft, but he didn't sit on the coach and watch TV. Instead, he worked out and threw to a few friends at home.

He also got a chance to dive into the Eagles' playbook, something he said he was eagerly awaiting the day after the Eagles used the No. 2 pick on him.

"I love it," Wentz said of the playbook, before admitting he needs to pace himself because of how extensive it is. "I think it's a great quarterback-friendly offense. I love the intricacies of it. I've just really scratched the surface with it."

On Friday afternoon, upon his arrival to practice, head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich greeted Wentz. Reich chatted with his new protégé for a few minutes while Wentz began to stretch and warm up.

At 1:10, with a black sleeve tightly compressed on his right throwing arm and a white wristband on both arms, Wentz began to take snaps from undrafted center Bruce Johnson, while tryout QB Everett Golson, of Notre Dame and Florida State fame, took snaps on his right.

There are 55 players on the Eagles' rookie camp roster, most of which don't have much of a chance to make the team's final 53-man roster. But after a short walkthrough Friday morning, Friday afternoon offered Wentz his first taste of practice.

The rookie camp runs through Sunday before whole team OTAs begin Tuesday. What does Wentz hope to accomplish in these three days?

"Hopefully, a lot," he said. "Hopefully, I can lead these guys and show what I can do a little bit. Mentally, just continue to grow and get these opportunities."

After working on some handoffs to ghosts, it was 1:17 and time to stretch. The horn signaled the next period of practice. Wentz pointed toward the far end of the bubble and instructed his teammates to follow him for stretches.

He led them and a hoard of media members - that looked like a bunch of little kids playing soccer - to the other end of the practice facility.

"He's the man," third-round offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo said of Wentz. "Awesome guy. Wants to win games and I'm all about it."

Leading is important to Wentz. He's a leader. He's said it. His former coaches and teammates have said it. And the Eagles expect it.

But how can he lead grown men? How can he lead a team that already has a starting quarterback?

"You gotta earn it with hard work," Wentz said. "You've got to earn it building relationships, being around the guys and everything. It doesn't just happen overnight. Nothing's handed to you here, you have to come in and earn the respect of everybody. I'm looking forward to doing that."

Wentz hasn't yet talked to Sam Bradford, the incumbent and disgruntled quarterback with whom he'll have to share a quarterback room soon enough (see story). He expects that meeting to come Monday and thinks they'll have a "great" relationship.

But on Friday, Wentz was the only quarterback who mattered.

The first pass of the Carson Wentz Era didn't come until 1:32, nearly a half hour after he first stepped onto the field. He rifled the ball about 10 yards to a waiting coach. His second pass was spiraled to undrafted running back Byron Marshall from Oregon.

A little later, after ripping several passes to different players, Wentz lifted his helmet and wiped the sweat from his brow with his forearm. Pederson, whose success as an NFL head coach hinges largely on the young quarterback, joined him for a brief conversation of about 15 seconds. At the end, Wentz nodded his head, slammed his helmet back down, and lined up to take another snap.

It was 1:49. And there was still a lot of work to do.

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