HOUSTON - Carson Wentz picked up a football Thursday morning for the first time in a month.
He wished it could have been on a practice field preparing for Sunday's Super Bowl rather than the set of ABC's Good Morning America. But that's the way it goes.
"This is frustrating," said the Eagles quarterback, who is down here shilling for Gatorade and some other products he endorses. "I don't ever not want to be playing in January ever again."
It's actually February, but you get his drift. If you were bummed that the Eagles didn't make the playoffs, imagine how he feels.
"We realize there's a lot to be done," he said. "But, at the same time, we realize we were only a couple of plays away in some of those games this season. In some cases, one play away.
"We realize we're close. And then, this offseason of growing together will be huge."
In case you haven't noticed, the Eagles are all in on Wentz. If he turns out to be everything they hope he'll be, and they can manage to put a solid supporting cast around him, the next 10 years will be interesting. If he doesn't, well, how 'bout them Sixers?
The Eagles are doing everything they can to maximize Wentz's chances for success. Last month, owner Jeff Lurie denied the New York Jets' request to speak with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo about their vacant offensive coordinator position. That doesn't happen unless Wentz wanted DeFilippo back.
"I'm really excited (that he's staying)," Wentz said. "We've got a year under our belt. We've grown together. He's learned a lot about me. I've learned a lot about him and how he operates.
"And it'll just keep growing. That's the cool part. Having that continuity year in and year out, it's hard to do in this league. So, for at least another year, we're going to have that.
"Coach DeFilippo is very detailed with everything and very organized. And he kind of has a plan for his approach. I think that helped me from Day 1, especially with learning the system.
"Now, he's got a year under his belt in the system and so does coach (Frank) Reich (the Eagles' offensive coordinator). Everyone's kind of integrating their own opinions. We're going to keep growing with it."
Wentz acknowledged Thursday that, in addition to his day job as the team's starting quarterback, he'll also be sort of a part-time personnel guy for the Eagles. He said the team will occasionally seek his input on personnel matters.
Exactly how much input he'll have remains to be seen. No, he probably won't have final say on draft picks. But the Eagles will seek his opinion.
"I'm excited about that," he said. "I think it ultimately shows that they trust me. I can't thank them enough for showing that trust in me.
"I don't know how real in-depth it will be. But it's just nice to know that they want me to have at least a little opinion, a little input."
The Eagles' don't start their offseason workout program until April, and OTAs won't get underway until May. At some point, Wentz plans to get together for passing work with some of his receivers, including tight end Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews.
He also will spend some time on the West Coast working with private quarterback instructor Adam Dedeaux.
"We'll just kind of see what it is," Wentz said of working with Dedeaux. "I'm not going to go crazy with it. I'm just going to go and learn. There's not going to be any mass overhaul (of his throwing mechanics) or anything. It's just refining everything and making everything more efficient."
Wentz took advantage of his athleticism more as the season wore on. He felt more comfortable using his feet to pick up first downs and extend plays.
He had nine rushing first downs in the Eagles' final seven games, which was the fourth most by a quarterback in the league during that period. He still needs to improve on his out-of-pocket accuracy. And his receivers still need to get on the same page with him when he scrambles. But that's what practice is for.
"I think it'll be real important," Wentz said of his ability to run and scramble. "It's something that I bring to the table. You see other guys in the league do it. You see Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger.
"There's huge plays out there that can be made (outside the pocket). Are they always going to work? No. That's part of the game. But that's something we've got to always be developing. It's something that I bring to the table that we all have to be on the same page on."
For much of the first half of his rookie season, Wentz was reluctant to leave the pocket, even when under duress. Part of it was that he was so focused on going through his progressions. But another part of it was that he didn't want to develop a reputation as being a "running" quarterback.
But as the season went along, he realized his athleticism was an asset, not a curse.
"It's hard to put my finger on how it happened," he said. "A lot of it is just the flow of the game. But I just kept getting more and more comfortable out of the pocket as the year wore on. When things broke down, I wasn't shy about trying to make a play.
"Were we perfect? No. We realize we have a long way to go there. But I also realize there's big-play potential in a lot of those opportunities."