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Carson Wentz starting 2018 season for Eagles 'realistic'

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Today, the Eagles team that Carson Wentz led most of the season will improbably play the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. A win, of course, will be a milestone.

Then on Wednesday, Wentz will have his own milestone. The starting quarterback will begin weight-bearing exercises with his brace unlocked for the first time since being placed on injured reserve, a significant step in his rehab as he tries to recover from a torn ACL and LCL.

If he had simply torn his ACL, he'd be out of a brace by now. That happens at four weeks. But it was a lateral collateral ligament, too, which he disclosed last week. The injury can force a conservative approach, leading to a longer rehab time. But once he's able to begin weight-bearing exercises in a few days, his recovery can proceed as if it were a simple tear.

Once Super Bowl LII is over, the story of the Eagles' offseason will center upon whether the franchise QB be ready to play in Philly's 2018 season opener.

According to several sources with knowledge of Wentz's rehab, it's "realistic"  to believe he'll be good to go for the opener. It's not a given, and no one knows for sure. But there is optimism.

Surgeon Dr. James Bradley, who did the operation, informed Wentz that barring a setback, he should be able to do some work in training camp and be ready for the season.

"I should be good. Should be good," Wentz said at the end of an abbreviated media appearance last week.

Wentz had surgery on Dec. 13, and recovery from a torn ACL usually takes nine months. Players are 100 percent at 12 months. Theoretically, Wentz should be OK, because a source noted, "nine months gets us to September. Then it'll be 12 months until he really looks the same."

When Wentz disclosed last week that he also tore his LCL, it complicated matters.

Sources say the main issue with an ACL and LCL tear is rehab goes slower early on. Wentz can't be too aggressive to get motion back too quickly, you can't put too much weight on it because it stresses the LCL repair. Once it crosses the 6 to 8 week threshold (which is where Wentz is now), it becomes like a normal ACL tear.

That's why, Wentz has taken it slow. First, he was non-weight bearing with crutches. Then weight-bearing with two crutches, then weight-bearing with one crutch, then weight-bearing with a cane, then weight-bearing with a brace locked. Wednesday's scheduled exercises will be the next step.

The most famous ACL/LCL tear is Robert Griffin III's. But one source was adamant you can't compare the two injuries because RGIII's was previously torn -- and Griffin didn't take his time as Wentz has. Griffin rushed back. The hope is Wentz benefits from the slower approach and is ready to go.

"Doing well," Wentz said last week about his rehab. "Just hitting the goals the doctors set. The rest of it is fluid and how your body responds."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet

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