The Eagles are running out of options behind Carson Wentz at quarterback. The first was Nate Sudfeld last week with a wrist injury against the Titans. Next, third-stringer Cody Kessler left in the first quarter Thursday night against the Jaguars with a potential concussion.
This thrust rookie fourth-stringer Clayton Thorson into live action earlier than expected in the 24-10 victory. The former Northwestern quarterback acquitted himself well by going 16-of-26 for 175 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
He thrived with a first-half effort of 8-of-16 for 94 yards and a 38-yard pitch and catch to Greg Ward to put the Eagles up 7-0. Interestingly enough, Ward, as well as fellow receiver and former college quarterback Braxton Miller, would be the emergency signal-callers in case Thorson went down with an injury, as well.
Thorson was a four-year starter for the Wildcats, leading them to their first-ever Big Ten West Division Title to punch a ticket into the conference championship game. The 23-year-old accumulated 10,731 passing yards, 61 touchdowns, 45 interceptions and 27 rushing scores throughout his college career.
These efforts prompted the Eagles into drafting him with the No. 167 pick in the fifth round of this past April’s NFL Draft. He joins former Wildcats signal-caller Trevor Siemian in the NFL, and follows in the footsteps of former Northwestern greats such as Otto Graham.
His first professional action didn’t go well last week against the Titans. He completed just 2-of-9 passes for seven yards and an interception. His week-to-week improvement projects well for his future on the roster, as well as the onslaught of injuries in the quarterback room.
Carson Wentz’s Timeline to Return
It was fitting that the Eagles were playing the Jaguars on a night of continued injury issues behind center. Nick Foles, the man who filled in for Carson Wentz en route to the Super Bowl two seasons ago, now plays in Jacksonville after signing a four-year deal this past March.
However, the mounting health issues put Wentz’s readiness for Week One into the spotlight. After season-ending knee injuries in 2017, as well as back issues last season, the former first-round pick may be thrust into more live snaps as early as next week against the Ravens.
According to head coach Doug Pederson, this isn’t worth the risk. He may sit his quarterback for the whole preseason, though he said this before another of his backups went down.
“(Wentz has) done some great things out here [in practice], obviously,” Pederson said to CBS Philly. “I try to make the way the practices are set up in training camp as hard as they can be in camp and not just for him, but for everybody and we’ve seen a lot of good things. He’s progressing and getting better every single day. The timing and rhythm with his receivers is getting better and it’s still kind of up to me to play anybody the rest of the way, but getting a lot of great work in in these practices.
“We still have a plan with not just him but with all of our guys and all of our starters. We don’t play the Washington Redskins for a few more weeks [the regular-season opener Sept. 8], so the goal is to get ready for that. But I have to evaluate these guys in the next couple of weeks and see if they need to play in some of these games and make decisions that way.”
For this preseason, Thorson handling the extra workload of the preseason may end up being one of the more underrated storylines of the Eagles’ season. If he can allow Wentz to get fully healthy and ready for the regular season, he may have just earned himself a second-string spot at the same time.