KRAVITZ: Conversation with Eagles' beat reporter Les Bowen

Fans cheer as a bus with team members arrives near the Philadelphia Museum of Art during a Super Bowl victory parade for the Philadelphia Eagles football team, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Bob Kravitz

(WTHR) — Bob Kravitz talked with Eagles' beat reporter Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.

Kravitz:

So what should people expect from Carson Wentz in his first game back from surgery and rehab?

Bowen:

I wish I knew.

I think his teammates will get a huge emotional boost from his return. I think he ought to be able to throw the ball with decent timing and accuracy; he has been practicing since the spring, at ever-increasing levels. But he hasn't played since last Dec. 10 and he has never played with a knee brace. I expect he'll be more or less effective (?) I'll be surprised if he blows the lid off by throwing for five touchdowns or anything. Doctors I have spoken with say he won't be last year's Carson, in terms of mobility and elusiveness, for a few more months. I expect his personality hasn't changed, he'll be fearless, aggressive, nonetheless.

Kravitz:

How have Doug Pederson and his staff guarded against the dreaded Super Bowl hangover? And are they a better team this year, at least on paper, than they were last year?

Bowen:

This was something Pederson put a big emphasis on back during the spring work. In fact, he declared the ring presentation at the end of June minicamp to be the official end of reveling in the Super Bowl. Hard to say at this point if that really worked. Malcolm Jenkins led a successful drive to get a big Super Bowl LII Champions sign moved out of the locker room; he didn't want guys looking at it all the time.

There are some aspects of the "hangover" that are just unavoidable. (Wide receiver) Alshon Jeffery played the Super Bowl season with a torn rotator cuff, got the surgery at the end of February instead of early January, when he could have gotten it had the team not made the playoffs. He has not yet been cleared for contact and won't make his 2018 debut for another week or two.

The Eagles are really thin at receiver right now, with Jeffery, Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins out; they had to let Trey Burton and Torrey Smith leave in free agency after they got deals the Eagles didn't have cap room to match.

There has been some of that "better team on paper" talk, but until we really see Wentz in stride and some other weapons healthy, it's hard to know. Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett are name players, but are they still any good? The jury is very much out on that.

It's theoretically possible, but the team the Colts will face Sunday is not better than the Super Bowl team.

Kravitz:

OK, the pick for the game. The Colts defense looked special last week against Washington, but as we known in the NFL, one week means nothing the next week. And Philly, despite its injuries, have more firepower than the Colts. Think Indy stick around and Philly covers the spread with a late score of two. Philly, 31-21.

Bowen:

I thought the Eagles might lose to Atlanta opening night, and then last week I was confident Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn't stand back there against their pass rush and throw for 400 yards the way he had against the Saints in the opener. Welp. So I am 0-2 and probably the last person to trust with a prediction. Right now I'm leaning toward Wentz's return giving the Eagles enough of a boost for them to win, but not cover. 20-16 Eagles?

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