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Carson Wentz flashes his talent in up-and-down debut

The Philadelphia Eagles plan to keep Carson Wentz tucked away in bubble wrap during his rookie season, but they diverted from that strategy Thursday night.

The No. 2 overall pick made his NFL debut in a 17-9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing two-plus quarters and showing flashes of the tantalizing athleticism that made him a heat-seeking riser in the lead up to this year's draft.

Taking over just before halftime, Wentz threw the ball on his first five snaps from scrimmage, completing two of those throws and watching a pair of catchable lobs fall to the ground to kill his first NFL drive.

Philly's home crowd, though, responded immediately to Wentz, who brought energy to the affair with quick feet and a live arm. It was encouraging to see the rookie climb the pocket on throws and stand in against pressure.

Wentz's first drive of the second half led to a punt, but he delivered another promising moment, deftly handling a premature snap from center, scrambling to his right and evading a free rusher for a 10-yard completion on third down. The connection was short of the sticks, but Wentz again brought the masses alive with his athletic response to pressure.

We also saw Wentz evade a surging defensive end to scramble for nine yards on a second-down play in the third quarter, wisely sliding before taking a hit. He moved well on the ground, swinging his big frame off tackle more than once for extra yardage.

Wentz's third drive looked like his best before disaster struck. The rookie efficiently guided the team 72 yards downfield over 10 plays -- firing off three straight completions at one point -- before Tampa's Isaiah Johnson picked him off in the end zone. Along with the turnover, Wentz also sailed the ball high on a handful of throws on Thursday night.

His final numbers -- 12-of-24 passing for 89 yards -- were far from fantasy gold, but forget the statistics. Wentz calmly ran the offense and even sampled the zone-read during a fourth-quarter scamper that saw him flip over a defender just short of the sticks.

The rookie was done after a late, fourth-quarter march that ended on downs. That final drive was capped by a devastating hit that left Wentz lying face down on the unforgiving grass.

He got back up, though, walking off the field to ponder an NFL debut that wasn't perfect -- but offered a glimpse of why the Eagles view Wentz at their quarterback of the future.

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