With Nate Sudfeld out for six weeks, who will the Eagles turn to as Carson Wentz’s backup now?
Backups get most if not all of the playing in the first preseason game for NFL teams, so Nate Sudfeld got the start in place of Carson Wentz Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans. And he performed pretty well (10-for-18, 177 yards and a touchdown).
But Sudfeld landed awkwardly as he braced his fall after being hit late, and suffered a broken left wrist. Head coach Doug Pederson told reporters after the game that Sudfeld was slated for surgery Friday morning, and the injury is not season-ending.
Sudfeld won’t be ready for Week 1, as he’s expected to miss six weeks. Wentz has missed time late in the last two seasons, with a torn ACL and then a back issue, paving the way for Nick Foles to make a run to Super Bowl LII MVP and follow that with a playoff win as the Eagles starter last year.
Wentz’s injury history automatically makes whoever the Eagles’ backup quarterback is an important player.
Pederson said the Eagles won’t bring in another quarterback right away, and Cody Kessler will be given a chance to win the No. 2 job. He started four games for the Jacksonville Jaguars last year, and he also started eight games as a rookie for the Cleveland Browns in 2016.
The only other quarterback on Philadelphia’s roster right now is rookie fifth-round pick Clayton Thorson out of Northwestern. Via Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pederson joked he could come out of retirement to fill the void.
All jokes aside, the Eagles seem likely to end up going with Kessler as Wentz’s immediate backup when they head into the regular season and it’s conceivable Kessler keeps the job after Sudfeld returns. But if they do look outside the organization to sign someone who will be other than a preseason/camp arm, which seems very unlikely now, notable options include Sam Bradford, Colin Kaepernick and Matt Cassel.
Wentz’s injuries did not derail the Eagles in either of the last two seasons. But Foles was destined to leave for greener financial pastures when he hit free agency, and there was no significant investment made to replace him.
Any bet on Wentz lasting an entire season unscathed is a bad one until he proves otherwise. The Eagles were already walking a real tightrope by making Sudfeld No. 2 on the depth chart, one play away from seeing action in a game that mattered. For a team with lingering and legit Super Bowl aspirations, Kessler is a marginal step up based only on the fact he has actually started an NFL regular season game.