— One noticeable change in Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz‘s play this summer is that he hasn’t been using his legs as a weapon.

During practice, he has been operating almost exclusively from the pocket. He drops back, surveys and fires. There’s the occasional bootleg or rollout, but it’s hard to remember an occasion when he clicked into backyard-football mode and scrambled around until something broke open downfield.

“That part of my game is definitely not gone — it’s still going to be there — but if I don’t need to, why would I get out of the pocket when the O-line is holding up and I can find guys to get the ball to?” Wentz said.

It’s a fair point. He is fortunate to play behind one of the best and deepest offensive lines in football. And he has never had better weapons than he does now with receiving options such as Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and Dallas Goedert. Why make life harder on yourself when you can run the show like a point guard on an All-Star team?

The logic is sound. But it’s also a departure from the style of play we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Wentz. When you think of him, you think of the quick escapes and extended plays and the hard charges toward oncoming traffic.

Since entering the league in 2016, Wentz has been contacted 243 times — sixth most of any quarterback in that span.

There are two primary catalysts driving the change. The first is his growing mastery of coach Doug Pederson’s system. Entering Year 4 in the , his coaches and teammates notice Wentz is “operating really quickly,” as offensive coordinator Mike Groh put it. He’s getting through his reads faster and is able to problem-solve better in real time, which reduces the need to take off and run.

“It’s part of the progression of him and his growth as a young quarterback right now,” Pederson said. “He’s getting to the line of scrimmage, he’s seeing things fast, he’s redirecting protection, going through his progressions, [the] ball is coming out of his hand quicker.”

The second, undeniable factor is Wentz’s recent injury history. After suffering back-to-back season-ending injuries, he dedicated himself this offseason to finding ways to increase the odds of staying healthy. He hired a nutritionist and got on a gluten-free diet. He assembled a team of trainers, including a soft-tissue specialist, to overhaul his training regimen. It would be somewhat pointless to go to all those lengths without examining your on-field behavior and making the proper adjustments there, too.

The challenge in front of him is finding a balance between the old style and the new, and then applying his modified approach when things change from a controlled environment to a live setting.

However that shakes out, this much is clear: Wentz has no plans of retiring his Houdini act altogether.

“I feel good just going through my reads, throwing a completion and moving on,” Wentz said. “When I need to make a guy miss in the pocket, when I need to get out and make a play, that’s still definitely going to be a big part of my game.”


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