Eagles Press Conference Notes: Wentz’s Health, Ertz Improving and Team Culture

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

When Carson Wentz, Jason Kelce and Zach Ertz met with the media on Monday, certainly the most important news to come out of the session was the emergence of the slew of injuries that Kelce suffered during the 2018 season.

While the second-most important piece of news, about Josh Adams having surgery for his own injury, did not come from the session, there was a lot to take away from the session.

Carson Wentz is Still Healing

Asked about the stress fracture in his spine, quarterback Carson Wentz told reporters that he feels good, but that his spine is not fully healed. He told reporters that, “it’s still getting there”, but was unable to give any other specifics.

The good news is that Wentz said repeatedly that he was feeling good and said he has been able to get in some running and throwing. On the concerning side, Wentz was non-committal about being ready for OTAs.

While he did mention that OTA’s are the goal, he said there was no official timetable. Getting some reps in will be critical for Wentz prior to the start of the regular season. He’ll be playing with a new receiver in DeSean Jackson and a new power back in Jordan Howard. It will be critical for Wentz to develop chemistry with the two in order to properly utilize both the long ball and the short yardage situations.

Zach Ertz Continuing to Improve

Perhaps you’ve heard that Zach Ertz’s 116 receptions in 2018 set a record for the most receptions by a tight end in a single season. Those catches went for 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns, earning Ertz his second straight Pro Bowl nod and earning the 91 spot on Pro Football Focus’ Top 101 players.

But Ertz’s record-breaking season came at a time when Travis Kelce was still at the top of his game and George Kittle set a record for most yards by a tight end in a single season. There is room for debate about who is the top tight end, especially when you consider blocking ability, which is an area Ertz struggled with early in the season.

Ertz has heard this debate and wants to end it. He wants to be the best and told reporters that this was probably the best offseason he has had since entering the NFL. If Ertz can continue to improve, the Eagles offense will just get even more dangerous. If Ertz and sophomore Dallas Goedert are able to improve their blocking, the Eagles run game will certainly take leaps and bounds forward when combined with the acquisition of Jordan Howard.

A Strong Locker Room

The Eagles had some big decisions to make in free agency, but they worked to retain players like Brandon Graham and Ronald Darby while allowing players who may be unhappy with their roles or salary with the team, like Michael Bennett, Jay Ajayi and Stefen Wisniewski, to leave the team.

While the Eagles certainly liked the skill of Darby and Graham, the moves to re-sign both were also to keep locker room leaders around. The same could be said of the extension given to Jason Kelce.

When asked about being a dropped pass away from the NFC Championship game, Kelce quickly changed the question. Instead of talking about how Alshon Jeffery’s dropped pass at the end of the game may have lost the game, Kelce told reporters that they were a right-guard away from moving on.

Rather than tearing down a teammate, he built up another teammate. Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles early in the game against the Saints and the Eagles offense struggled from then on. Brooks was thankful for the support and took to social media to make that known.

Kelce also discussed how much sixth-round pick Matt Pryor improved throughout the 2018 season, even though fans never saw the rookie take a snap during the regular or post season. Kelce seems to believe that Pryor will be able to back up the guard positions just as well as Wisniewsi or Seumalo were able to do over the past two seasons.

All of that points to a team that, although it has seen a lot of turnover and the loss of leaders like Nick Foles, Jordan Hicks and Chris Maragos, appears poised to continue to have a strong locker room culture heading into the 2019 season.

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