PHILADELPHIA — Quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz shared a practice field for the first time Tuesday, and Eagles coach Doug Pederson emphasized that Bradford remains the team’s No. 1 quarterback.
“I’ve actually talked to Sam since he’s back,” Pederson said, “and I told him: My feelings haven’t changed. He’s my guy. He’s the No. 1 guy. I want him to embrace that and not look backward. Look forward.”
Bradford took practice reps with the first team in Tuesday’s session. Chase Daniel worked with the second team. Wentz, the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft, was with the third team.
“Sam’s still the starter,” Pederson said. “Carson has a long way to go with the system. He’s learning every day, but Sam’s the guy.
“I expect Sam not to look over his shoulder. I expect Sam to look forward. He’s getting himself ready for the season. He’s getting ready for Cleveland (the Eagles’ first opponent). That’s what I expect from Sam.”
Bradford said that was the approach he was taking. But he admitted to being “frustrated” last month, after the Eagles traded for the No. 2 pick with the intention to select a quarterback.
Bradford said he found out about the trade after it was made on a Wednesday. He practiced with his teammates the next day.
On Friday, Bradford talked with his agent, Tom Condon. That’s when the plan to ask for a trade was hatched.
“When I first found out about the trade,” Bradford said, “I was frustrated. I needed some time. I could have stayed here, but I’m not sure my head would have been here.”
Bradford had signed a new two-year contract with the Eagles in March. He did so, he said, with the idea that he would have a chance to establish himself as the long-term quarterback.
“Obviously, there are no promises in this business,” Bradford said. “It wasn’t a long-term deal, it was a two-year deal. I was well aware of that. We talked about that.
“My thought was to play well over that two years and to create that stability that I’ve talked about pretty much my whole career. Philadelphia was the place that I wanted to be. I wanted to play well for the next two years, create that stability and then sign a longer-term deal and stay here, for the rest of my career.”
That hope was dashed when the Eagles traded up to select Wentz. At that point, Bradford said, Condon advised him to return to Oklahoma while the agent pursued a trade.
“My agent felt a trade was the way to get somewhere to create that stability, at a place where I could be entrenched long term,” Bradford said. “He felt that was the best option.”
When the draft passed without a trade being made, Bradford decided to return to the team.
“After time and some thought,” Bradford said, “I realized this was still the best place for me to be. There’s a lot of guys in that locker room that I really care about and I know they care about me. Some of the conversations that I had with some of those guys made me realize how much I missed being here. I missed being on the field with those guys.
“They had my back. I know how much support they had for me. It made me realize this was still the right place for me.”
“He’s gassed up, he’s fired up,” Matthews said. “He’s making his throws, he’s doing his thing. As long as he’s doing that, that’s all we need from him. I feel like he’s excited. He’s ready to be here.”
Bradford was aware of the perception that his walking out showed a lack of willingness to compete for his job. Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said Tuesday that he “almost threw up” when he heard Bradford had walked out.
“I can’t believe Sam Bradford is complaining about making $40 million in the next two years, and because he actually has to compete for a position,” Bennett told 710 AM ESPN in Seattle. “This guy, this guy right here definitely sets a bad tone of what a player should be. If I was his teammate, how can you play with a guy that doesn’t want to compete at a high level and feels like his position should be solidified without even putting up the stats or the wins to back that up?”
Bradford said he had problem competing on the field with Wentz or Daniel.
“Competition is what it is,” Bradford said. “If I continue to play at a high level each week on the field, if we continue to win games, I believe I’ll be the starting quarterback.
“That being said, I’m not completely naïve. If the organization made a move to get up to (pick) two, it’s probably not going to be my team. But until it’s not, I’m going to continue to lead these guys the way I did last year. I’m going to do my job to the best of my ability.”