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Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz’s leadership impresses Eagles coach Doug Pederson

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, left, and Carson Wentz talk before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – No offense to the great state of North Dakota, but Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson spent this week at a prettier place than his key offensive players have.

While Pederson was enjoying the unreal sights at the American Century golf tournament, his receivers were gathered with his quarterback in Fargo, N.D. Take plenty of pictures, guys.

As he stood just feet from beautiful Lake Tahoe, Pederson talked to FanRag Sports about what is transpiring in North Dakota.

“I love it,” Pederson said. “These guys will do anything for Carson. They went to Fargo. That’s great.”

It is not unusual around the NFL for quarterbacks together with their receivers to stay in rhythm between the end of the offseason program in mid-June and training camp in late July. Some veteran quarterbacks gather some teammates, usually in attractive locales such as Southern California or Florida.

Unofficially, the belief this is the first time such a summit has occurred in Fargo. Why Fargo? That’s where Wentz, the North Dakota native, went to college at North Dakota State.

He wanted to host his teammates. Wentz knew it might take his receivers a bit to warm up to his chosen location. What was his teammate’s first impression when landing in his hometown? “What the heck is this place?” the quarterback said.

He went on to say his teammates loved his home.

Meanwhile, Pederson was all smiles thinking about Fargo while he was in this West Coast paradise.

Pederson said that Wentz arranged this week’s throwing session on his own and without Pederson’s influence. Pederson noted that this is a dead time for coaches and players, so this Eagles’ North Dakota field trip is 100 percent player driven. Wentz is behind the wheel. Pederson is not surprised by Wentz’s show of veteran leadership before his second season at age 24.

Wentz’s leadership ability is one of Pederson’s favorite traits. In fact, Pederson said that was one of the primary reasons why the Eagles moved up to the No. 2 pick in a trade with Cleveland for the chance to take Wentz in the 2016 NFL draft. Some teams weren’t high on Wentz, who was transitioning to the NFL from Division I-AA North Dakota State. However, in the Eagles’ pre-draft meetings with Wentz, his maturity and leadership spoke volumes.

“It’s something we keyed on,” Pederson. “We saw some things in his from before we got him that I’m not sure other teams saw. We saw the type of kid he was and what a leader he can be.”

Pederson, a former NFL quarterback, said demeanor is as vital for a quarterback as his arm. Pederson was a backup to Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Dan Marino. Both were known for their leadership ability. Pederson, entering his second season as an NFL head coach, sees the same traits in Wentz.

Wentz, of course, is much more than just a leader. He has big skills. While he had the usual rookie ups and downs, Wentz was a plus player as a rookie. He was very polished and had some big games. Wentz completed 62.4 percent of his passes and threw for 3,782 yards with a limited group of weapons. The Eagles have added receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith this offseason. Clearly, they feel good about their young quarterback or they would have stayed clear of Fargo in their late days of vacation before camp.

In addition to having better weapons, Pederson is excited to see Wentz in his second season.

“He had some growing pains and he has a lot to work on, which is normal,” Pederson said. “He is going to be so much better after starting every game as a rookie. He has such a head start. He is only going to get better.”

Pederson knows this for sure – Wentz’s teammates believe in him as this week in Fargo shows.

“They know how talented and dedicated he is,” Pederson said.”That’s why they went out to see him … I’m really excited for what’s next for him.”

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