Alshon Jeffery's Production a Concern, so is Recent Injury
It’s not a good sign that Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders has just 48 fewer yards than the team’s perceived number one receiver, Alshon Jeffery. Still, the Eagles can’t afford for Jeffery to have to limp his way through Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots or for the remainder of the season.
Head coach Doug Pederson said on Wednesday morning that Jeffery’s ankle is still sore, after the injury forced him to sit out much of the Eagles lengthy fourth-quarter drive that sealed their 22-14 win over the Chicago Bears before the bye week. Pederson expected Jeffery to practice on Wednesday, but he will likely be limited after the coach said Jeffery would be day-to-day.
If Jeffery cannot play Sunday, his place would be taken by rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
Jeffery hasn’t had the same production this year as he had in his first two seasons in Philadelphia, but he is still someone that Bill Belichick must account for in his game plan, as is Sanders.
Sanders has 305 yards receiving; Jeffery has 353, which puts him on track to have the lowest yards in a season since his rookie year in Chicago when he had 367, but played just 10 games.
It’s not Sanders’ game, however, that Pederson pointed to when asked about Jeffery’s struggles this season. Pederson said tight end Dallas Goedert is being used more in the passing game, though Goedert’s 221 yards receiving are still well below the 334 he put up as a rookie last year.
“Having Dallas a little more involved in the offense, the ball gets spread around little more,” said Pederson. “The times we have gone to Alshon he’s made plays. His value to the offense has been very good. The ball’s going to find the open guy, sometimes he’s the primary, sometimes he’s not, he might be the secondary or third guy in the progression.
“He’s a guy that gives of himself to the team, and that’s who Alshon is. He doesn’t gripe or complain. He does battle through injury. He’s battled through it his whole career. He’s battled through it here and he’s a tough kid. We continue to game plan for him every week. It’s my job to try to dial up as many plays as I can for him.”
There is no questioning Jeffery’s toughness. He played Super Bowl LII with a torn rotator cuff that nobody outside he Eagles’ locker room knew about at the time.
This season, though, Jeffery’s biggest game in terms of yards was 76 and he needed 10 catches to get those in a loss at Minnesota. Against the Bears, Jeffery had three critical drops, prompting offensive coordinator Mike Groh to come Jeffery’s defense on Tuesday.
Groh and Jeffery spent time together in Chicago before both arrived in 2017.
“I've been with him for a long time and I have never seen him drop three balls, whether it's six years or something together, I don’t anticipate that happening again for another six years,” said Groh. “The guy has excellent hands and has a proven track record in this league and is a very good player and will continue to be a very good player. We haven't lost any confidence in him. I know that he'll make some very important plays for us.”
INJURY UPDATES: Pederson said that left tackle Jason Peters had his knee scoped but was expected to practice on Wednesday and is optimistic Peters could play against the Patriots … Linebacker Nigel Bradham might play, but he still wasn’t expected to be ready to practice on Wednesday … Cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc is still working to get off Injured Reserve, so he probably won’t be available to play on Sunday.