As spotlight intensifies, Doug Pederson can help 'protect' Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz is keeping the focus on football, and the Eagles don't expect that to change. Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

The President of the United States brought him up in a speech. He has the hottest-selling jersey in the NFL. Carson Wentz has experienced an incredible surge in popularity in just a week's time, fueled by a strong debut on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

"He's handled it fine. I'll tell you that he and I have had conversations the last couple days," said head coach Doug Pederson. "Just wanted him to be aware of, just limit the noise on the outside. Let's just focus on football. And that's the one thing about him and his maturity level is how well he does balance work with some of the outside influences."

Still, this is a beast the 23-year-old is encountering for the first time. He was -- is -- a star in North Dakota, but the media crush was never this intense; the reverberations never traveled this far.

"This is where I can step in and help him and protect him and keep him out of that and keep him focused," said Pederson. "If I can keep him in the building as long as I stay in the building, then we're going to be OK. Listen, I know there's always outside influences. And the more success he has on the football field, all that off-the-field stuff will take care of itself. But the last few days, he's handled it well."

Wentz will play on a national stage this week, as the Eagles travel to Chicago to take on the Bears on Monday Night Football.

He's expected to be without one of his security blankets in Zach Ertz, who suffered a rib displacement against the Browns and will not practice Thursday.

"He's progressed well; he's feeling better," said Pederson. "We just can't risk putting him back out there right now with any kind of contact on that shoulder.

"I don't profess to be a doctor in this field, but I do know with this rib it's just displaced about seven millimeters. It just has to work itself back together, tighten whatever is up in there."

Starting cornerback Leodis McKelvin is also considered "week-to-week" and will not suit up for Thursday's session. Rookie Jalen Mills will likely see an increased role if McKelvin can't go.