LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) — After a bye week, Carson Wentz and the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles look to keep up their fast start against the struggling Detroit Lions.
Philadelphia (3-0) has one of the NFL’s top-ranked defenses and rookie quarterback Wentz is playing mistake-free football.
“We’ve just got to keep him grounded,” rookie coach Doug Pederson said.
The Eagles are relatively healthy, too, coming off a bye.
Detroit (1-3) has lost three straight since winning at Indianapolis. The Lions have gotten picked apart by all four quarterbacks, who have combined to throw 12 touchdowns and only one interception.
“We have to find a way to change those things,” safety Glover Quin said.
The Lions are also far from full strength, playing much of the season without two of their best defenders, Ezekiel Ansah and DeAndre Levy, because of injuries and it seems unlikely that they will play the Eagles. The Lions may possibly be without tight end Eric Ebron, too, in Week 5.
Here are some things to watch when the Lions host Philadelphia on Sunday:
NOT ON THE RUN: Wentz has run the ball nine times for 21 yards and none of his rushing attempts were by design. At North Dakota State, Wentz ran the ball quite often. Pederson acknowledged he has been reluctant to put his franchise QB on the move.
“It’s our fourth game of the season and obviously as a staff we’ve got to be extremely smart on how we handle that aspect of the game,” Pederson said. “Probably the deeper as you go into your regular season, if you’re in a position to make the postseason, you might increase that a little bit.”
DOING HIS PART: The Lions signed wide receiver Marvin Jones to a $40 million, five-year deal just after Calvin Johnson retired during the offseason. Jones has 482 yards receiving, the most by a player in franchise history has had through the first four games of a season. He trails only Atlanta’s Julio Jones, who has 488 yards, in the NFL.
“I don’t care about getting mine,” Marvin Jones said. “I just want to win.”
WELCOME BACK: The Eagles expect to have tight end Zach Ertz and cornerback Leodis McKelvin play after they missed two games with injuries, putting all their starters in the lineup for the first time since Week 1. Ertz’s return to the lineup will allow Philadelphia to use formations with three tight ends, including Trey Burton and Brent Celek.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” receiver Jordan Matthews said.
The Lions likely don’t feel the same way because they’ve allowed tight ends to score in every game this season.
“A lot of times, tight ends are security blankets for quarterbacks,” Quin said. “We have to be aware of where (Ertz) is at. He’s a threat.”
STINGY SCHEME: Philadelphia is giving up an NFL-low nine points a game and is the only team in the league that hasn’t allowed a passing touchdown. Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Fox and end Brandon Graham, each of whom has three sacks, lead one of the league’s best front sevens. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who was Detroit’s coach from 2009 to 2013, has helped turn around a unit that ranked among the NFL’s worst defenses the previous three years.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford said it might give Schwartz an edge to be coming off a bye and creating a game plan to slow him down after being around him day to day for five seasons.
“He’s a smart guy,” Stafford said. “He’s had a week to prepare for us, so I’m sure he’s thought of some new stuff that we’ll see that we probably haven’t seen on tape yet.”
HOME COOKING: The Lions opened on the road and were away from home in three of the first four games. They have a chance to bounce back from the slow start with three consecutive home games against Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Washington.
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