Carson Wentz's back injury may in fact be more serious than previously reported. It emerged earlier this week that Wentz was dealing with a back injury and could miss this coming Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams, but reports on Thursday indicated that scans showed Wentz has a fractured vertebrae in his back, which went unrecognized by scans conducted earlier in the season.
Via ESPN's Adam Schefter and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:
A recent CT scan on Carson Wentz’s back revealed a fractured vertebrae that, if allowed time to rest, would fully heal without further expected issues, sources tell ESPN. There will be a continued evaluation to determine if continuing to play this year will make injury worse.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 13, 2018
Sources: A battery of tests revealed that #Eagles QB Carson Wentz has a fracture in his back. The team did CT scans throughout the season, but none revealed the fracture until now. The team is still determining if there is any risk of continuing to play. No surgery necessary.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 13, 2018
It's already been determined that backup Nick Foles will start for Wentz on Sunday, and he could remain in that role for the rest of the season, according to Rapoport.
With no surgery coming for #Eagles QB Carson Wentz, rest is the key. That’s why he’s not expected to play on Sunday — with QB Nick Foles starting. No determination has been made on Injured Reserve… but they won’t put him at risk. Looking more likely we’ll next see him in '19.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 13, 2018
Of course, Foles famously filled in for Wentz last season after the Eagles' starter went down with a torn ACL in a December game against the Rams, and led the team to its first Super Bowl. He started the first two games of this season as well, as Wentz continued to rehab before returning in Week 3.
Wentz played well throughout this season, but did not quite reach the heights or consistency he did a year ago -- which is to be expected after a serious knee injury that kept him on the sideline for nearly 10 months. A quarterback with a knee injury in his past is concerning, but one with a back injury may be even more so. (The Eagles need only look to the division rival Cowboys for evidence of that. Tony Romo dealt with back injuries for years, and the one he suffered in 2016 led to his losing his job to Dak Prescott and then retiring at the end of the season to join us here at CBS.) So, this is certainly something to monitor as Wentz continues his career.
Hopefully this is just a small blip on his road to a long period of success in Philly, but with two potentially serious injuries in two years, some level of concern has to be building inside the Eagles organization -- even if it is only mild. Luckily, they have a strong backup in whom they have a ton of confidence, and can feel comfortable putting him on the field. Whether Wentz feels similarly confident in the Eagles' medical staff after they failed to find this fractured vertebrae in multiple tests earlier in the season is another question, but surely, the long-term interests of team and player align here as it is in the Eagles' best interest to have Wentz healthy and playing well for a very long time.
And it's not like other quarterbacks have not sustained back injuries before and come back to be their best selves again. Romo, for example, had his best season after fracturing a vertebrae in his back. It can be done, and as long as Wentz rests and gets himself healthy, he may be able to do it, too.