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Carson Wentz focused on building chemistry to start camp

07272022 Training Camp EF100

Ron Rivera couldn't help but crack a small smile when he opened his press conference by answering a question about Carson Wentz. 

"He's hyper," Rivera replied. "I mean, he's excited. He really is. Really happy with his retention, the way he is handling the huddles, breaking the huddles." 

It was easy for everyone watching and playing alongside Wentz to get excited, too. People have been anxious to see how he will change the Washington Commanders' offense since the team first executed the trade back in March.  

Given how much Wentz has praised the roster and its potential, it's understandable why he would want a strong start. But being the six-year veteran that he is, Wentz knows there's still plenty of time until the Commanders take the field for real. Until then, Wentz's primary focus is to continue settling into his new team. 

"I think early on for me is just finding that timing and chemistry with guys," Wentz said. "Now that you're out here against the defense, all that stuff, just understanding guys, how they get in and out of breaks, in and out of cuts."

Wentz has been working building a bond with his pass-catchers for months. It started with OTAs, but once players were sent home for their six-week dead period, he held a player-driven workout in California with Jahan Dotson, Cam Sims and Terry McLaurin.

"I think it was beneficial to get on the field obviously for a couple days and start building that chemistry that I've been talking about," Wentz said. "But also, just off the field, going to dinner with each guy, going to breakfast, lunch, just being around them and just kicking it with the guys, getting to know each guy."

The connection between Wentz and McLaurin has been what many have been the most anxious to see now that McLaurin has signed his extension. The fans in attendance got a peek at that during team drills, when Wentz dotted McLaurin for a 20-yard gain after the wideout beat his defender near the right sideline.

"Just watching Terry go deep and catching the ball the way he did and going after it and making a play," Rivera said. "If anybody's wondering why we [extended him], that to me is the perfect example of why we did it."

Wentz can normally tell when he is going to have a strong connection with a receiver. He starts to learn their tendencies and understand how they work through their routes, which gives him a map for how they can work together.

The budding bond he's establishing with McLaurin is an example of that, and Rivera has been pleased how the two have communicated thus far.

"He threw a little behind Terry, and I'm thinking to myself, 'Wow, he missed it,'" Rivera said. "But then Terry came over and told him, 'Hey, I came outta that [route] too soon.' … They're developing that type of rapport. It's going to be very helpful for each other and for us for that matter."

The other half of that understanding is learning the Commanders' playbook. Wentz has said every offense comes with its own wrinkles, but so far, he's impressed his coaches and teammates with how he's grasped the concepts. J.D. McKissic even said during OTAs that Wentz has picked things up quicker than he thought he would.

It's still an adjustment, Wentz admitted, but he is feeling good with his progress.

"It was a lot of information. It's always a new language, but it's the part of the game that I love. Understanding the X's and O's, asking the questions, 'Why are we doing this? What's going on here?'"

In terms of Wentz's performance in the offense, it was a typical first day. Good plays were mixed in the bad, and the connection between him and his pass-catchers still needs work. Still, it seems like a good start to Rivera.

"This is early," he said. "We get a lot of time to work and develop that."

And there are certainly signs of what the offense could become with Wentz at the helm; Wentz himself already sees a little bit of it. It's only Day 1 of what will be a long training camp, but Wentz is content with knowing that things got started the right way.

"We got a lot of work to do. I got a lot of work to do, but I'm excited for the season."

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