To open camp, Wentz's attitude stands out more than his play originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
In his first training camp practice with the Washington Commanders, Carson Wentz acknowledged that it was hotter than his previous offseason sessions with the club. He also admitted that his play, unlike the temperatures, wasn’t all that scorching.
However, a mixture of completions and confusion is expected for a passer who’s still getting used to a new team and, therefore, not all that concerning.
What matters more to Washington at this stage of the NFL calendar is how Wentz, whose standing in the locker room at his two previous stops has been called into question, is fitting in with the rest of the roster. And in that respect, it sounds like Wentz is — to stick with the weather theme — getting warmer by the day.
“I’m worried about what I see with my own eyes and he’s given me no reason to doubt him at all,” Jonathan Allen said Wednesday when asked about Wentz’s reputation (one Allen himself labeled as “terrible” back in June).
“What he does on a day-to-day basis will tell me everything I need to know about him. He came in, he worked, he involved himself with the team and he’s exactly what we want from a quarterback. So, I have no questions.”
Wentz the on-field figure has his flaws, sure — including a tendency to “think he’s Brett Favre” and try to do too much as well as spotty accuracy that can affect even the easiest attempts — but for the Commanders, his strengths should still outweigh the shortcomings.
For a club that won seven contests with a pushed-into-duty Taylor Heinicke leading the way, Wentz will be a massive upgrade physically, most notably when it comes to attacking defenses deep and in creating highlights when there’s not much available.
Yet the side of Wentz that is equally, if not more, maligned than his performance is his personality.
In Philadelphia, his detractors found him resistant to tough coaching and thin-skinned, while Indianapolis has been rather vocal about their distaste for him since trading him back to the NFC East, so much so that it’s difficult not to surmise that there were behind-the-scenes problems for a guy who posted an above-average 27-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Fortunately, Wentz came across Wednesday as a player who’s focused on addressing his perception and making solid connections within his third professional organization.
“It looks different every year, every locker room looks different, but you just have to be intentional and build that chemistry and that relationship in time,” Wentz said. “There’s a lot of good dudes in there and it’s been fun to get to know them.”
He also was appreciative of Ron Rivera’s continued push to remind Wentz that he’s wanted by Washington.
“I think for anybody, it just builds confidence,” he said. “It builds confidence within myself. I will always think that I’m a confident person, but hearing it from somebody else, from the head coach, definitely instills that confidence more.”
For fans wondering how Wentz looked between the whistles — which is a fair thing to wonder about, since friendships and cohesion don’t do anything once they turn on the scoreboards in September — Rivera felt like No. 11 was a bit “hyper.”
Wentz’s best sequence of Wednesday’s action came in a 9-on-9 drill where he located and hit Terry McLaurin on a corner route for a massive chunk, yet he grew more erratic as the practice wore on.
Again, that’s all normal for late July, and for Rivera, Wentz’s understanding of the scheme was promising.
“Real happy with his retention, the way he’s handling the huddles, breaking the huddles,” the coach explained. “You know he studied, you know he was preparing himself and showing up, what he did today in terms of his movements, you could tell he was pretty confident about his movements.”
Eventually (as in, Week 1), Wentz better be more in sync with his targets and more able to sustain drives. But for a veteran who’s one poor year away from becoming a vagabond in the NFL, establishing a foundation with the Commanders first is vital.