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Carson Wentz could be cleared for next week, still might not play

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Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is nearing a return to the football field and sources say he could be cleared for contact as early as this week.

The third week of the season has always been a target and Philly's franchise quarterback has progressed in rehab enough to where that is quite possible.

However, that is not the end of the story. The question of when Wentz will actually get on the field to play a real football game is a complicated one.

The team is not in a rush for Wentz to play and there are several key, influential voices who have been preaching caution -- including owner Jeffrey Lurie.

With Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles starting Sunday against the Bucs, the Eagles have the best backup plan in football.

The thinking has been -- and will be throughout -- that the decision of when Wentz will return to the field following a torn ACL and LCL is about the next 10 or 15 years, rather than 10 or 15 minutes. As one source familiar with the team's thinking said, if the Eagles need to hold him out longer, they are fully committed to doing so.

That's why it still might be a few weeks until he plays.

One source who knows Wentz well says the QB will be fighting for the chance to play and no one expects any different. But return-to-play situations take many voices to weigh in, from medical to the team to the player.

What will Wentz look like when he's actually playing? According to his throwing guru who helped hone his skills before an MVP-caliber season in 2017, as good if not better than before.

"He probably will come back stronger and better than ever," Adam Dedeaux, Wentz's LA-based mechanics coach at 3DQB, told NFL.com. "He's way ahead of everything, in part because he's such a freak athlete. As he's gotten healthy, it's been abundantly clear he's dedicated himself to the process. Even he's surprised himself at how well the ball is coming out. The metrics the coaches around him are getting, it's a tighter spin. He's doing great."

Wentz, for instance, can throw a football farther now than he ever could. In part, actually because of rehab, he's trained the right muscles and focused acutely on his mechanics.

"His arm feels great," Dedeaux said, "it's clear he's put in the work."

Dedeaux, who along with Tom House works with many of the top QBs in the league, has seen videos of Wentz throwing. He likes what he's seen.

"His mechanics are as sound as I've seen them," Dedeaux concluded. "He hasn't created any bad habits. One thing you may see different is he's been jump-throwing a little more. That just plays into his athleticism. He's just such a great thrower of the football."

The Eagles should know soon enough whether he's doing that on the field or not.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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