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Injury Report

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About the only adjectives football players want to hear used before the word “ribs” are “braised,” “barbecued” or “slow-cooked.” Saturday, Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz learned that he sustained a hairline fracture of his ribs during last Thursday’s pre-season game against Tampa Bay.

Anyone who’s ever bruised, fractured or broken ribs understands how painful the experience can be. Quick movements can feel like someone has jammed an awl into the side. And don’t even ask El Hombre what happens during a sneeze.

Wentz will be taking life at a slower pace for the next couple weeks, meaning that fans won’t get to see him play for a while, beginning Thursday in Pittsburgh and continuing through the practice-season finale Sept. 1 against the Jets, although coach Doug Pederson “hopes” to have him back by then. The lost opportunity for reps against live competition—or more specifically backups’ backups—will hurt Wentz’s development. And that has some fans in town pretty upset.

Well, everybody should just relax. Wentz is going to be sore for a few weeks, and he won’t be able to engage in the kind of swashbuckling quarterback play he did—ironically—against the Buccaneers, when he showed his speed, daring, courage and big arm, not to mention an ability to absorb a big hit. Once he’s healthy again—and it would be pure insanity for the Eagles to put him into a game unless his ribs were stronger than iron—he can continue his development in practice and the film room.

Keep in mind that Wentz was never really part of the Eagles’ 2016 plans. He came to town as a third stringer, and it’s funny how people haven’t been able to understand that. Chase Daniel’s time spent with Pederson in Kansas City, and his gargantuan contract make him as solid a backup as can be. Wentz’s rib injury is upsetting, since we most likely can’t watch him play during the remaining three pre-season games, but barring serious injury to Sam Bradford, it has little effect on the season. Besides, if Wentz actually plays this year, it will be as strong an indication as possible that the Birds’ season is shot. The best chance the team has to contend in the volatile NFC East is if starter Sam Bradford plays 16 full games.

If people want a reason to be upset, they should look no further than the offensive line, where Lane Johnson is about to absorb a 10-game suspension for a second P.E.D. violation, Jason Peters is already dealing with an injury, and free agent guard Brandon Brooks hurt his biceps against the Bucs. There were questions about the O-line before training camp started. Now, there are serious fears. If things don’t get sturdier up front, it wouldn’t be wise to let Wentz take a snap this season, no matter what happens to Bradford and Daniel.
It’s natural for fans to get excited about Wentz and his potential. The Eagles spent a lot to get him. But don’t forget that last year’s two top QBs, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, combined to win nine games during their rookie campaigns. Eagles fans don’t want Wentz to play this year. They want to make the playoffs, and using a rookie QB will not accomplish that goal. Further, if the offensive line is going to be so compromised, allowing Wentz to take a beating is not a good idea. Better to let short-term assets like Bradford and Daniel get clobbered than to expose the future to more abuse.

So, Wentz will wait. And heal. Meanwhile, Bradford will continue to prepare for the season, which has been the plan all along. Don’t worry, people. Wentz will be ready for the opener … in 2017.

EL HOMBRE SEZ: It was fun to watch Usain Bolt smoke the field again in the Olympic 100-meter dash Sunday night, but can anyone watch a sprint (or any Olympic race, for that matter) and feel completely confident that all the participants are clean? The answer here is no. Bolt is the first three-time Olympic 100-meter champ, and the world will be happy if it doesn’t learn in the future that he took shortcuts. For now, we should believe he is clean—while never being so naïve as to think the opposite isn’t possible.

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