It’s hard to miss Alshon Jeffery at Eagles practice.
Philadelphia’s new No. 1 wide receiver is easily the most physically imposing member of the team’s pass catching corps. At 6-3, 218 pounds, Jeffery just looks like he’s going to give defenses trouble.
But before Jeffery can dominate, he needs to get on the same page with his quarterback: Carson Wentz.
“It’s a work in progress, no doubt about it,” said Wentz of his budding connection with Jeffery. “It’s a work in progress with guys that I’ve been here for a year now. It’s just an ongoing process. You’re putting in new plays, new routes, things are always changing, so it’s a process. But I feel very comfortable with them at the same time. But again, we’re just going to continuously build that relationship.”
The good news is the two players seem to be off to a good start. Wentz targeted Jeffery early and often during the team’s first OTA practice on Tuesday. One of Wentz’s attempts was good for a completion deep down the field.
With no defense on the field, of course.
Again, it’s early. It’s only May. But Wentz has already liked what he’s seen from his top receiver.
“Well, first of all, today was the first day we got to go against the defense, take that for what it’s worth,” Wentz cautioned. “But it’s been great with him. He’s been on time, he knows what he’s doing, his catch radius is impressive. That’s the first thing that jumps out at me. I’m just looking forward to continuing to build that relationship.”
Wentz is hardly the only person from the organization to praise Jeffery this offseason. The wide receiver recently earned positive reviews from anonymous sources within the Eagles.
Alshon Jeffrey has made a great early impression on the Philly coaches. He’s in shape—one staffer said he looks like a “freak”—and all this jibes with what Bears coaches were saying about him last summer, before his 2016 went sideways.
While Jeffery was the key addition for the Eagles this offseason, he’s hardly the only piece they added. The obvious priority was to surround Wentz with weapons, and the team did just that. In addition to signing Jeffery, the Eagles signed Torrey Smith and drafted two rookie wide receivers: Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson. Such moves earned positive reviews from Wentz.
“Yeah, I mean I think this offseason, the approach, I thought it’s been great,” said the second-year quarterback. “I think we’ve added definitely guys on both sides of the ball that can really help us. Both through free agency, through the draft, through doing some things that … I’ll tell you one thing: I love the guys in that locker room and I think we have a chance to do something special.”
It feels like it’s been too long since we’ve seen “something special” from the Eagles. Maybe the Wentz-Jeffery connection can be that next thing.
Watch Carson Wentz’s entire Tuesday press conference via the Bleeding Green Nation Facebook page (click here or watch below).
Carson Wentz is speaking after the first Eagles OTA practice!Posted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Tuesday, May 23, 2017
WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM WORKING WITH QB GURU ADAM DEDEAUX?
Yeah, I was only down there for about 10 days, so it wasn’t super in-depth. It was really just — I know I spoke on it last time — it’s really just kind of cleaning up some things from an efficiency standpoint. No mass overhauls, nothing really major, just cleaning up the little things, a lot of it having to do with footwork. And so I thought it was good.
WILL YOU GO BACK THERE AFTER MINICAMP IS OVER?
I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure yet right now. I’m really just focused on [Eagles OTA practices]. See how this happens, see how this all transpires and then just kind of play it by ear.
WAS JARED GOFF THERE?
He was there. I mean, everyone trains at their own time though. I know he was down there, I saw him, but we didn’t train at the same time.
HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH THE NEW WIDE RECEIVERS?
It’s been great. It’s been great. The biggest thing that I’m excited about and that you can see every day is they’re all competing. They’re all competing within their group, pushing each other, helping each other out, which is great to see. And competition is just only going to make everyone better. So at the end of the day, it’s good to see that competitiveness come out. Even some of the younger guys now, the rookies that are here helping us out. It’s been a fun process for sure.
HOW DIFFERENT DO YOU FEEL BEING THE STARTER?
Coming in this offseason, I realized it was a big offseason for really this offense, this whole team. For me coming in last year, little different story. Just trying to get my bearings straight. Barely knew where the locker room was. Lot of things going on. It was pretty wild. So now it’s just focusing on these guys. And focusing on this playbook and how we can start building something special. It’s come very kind of naturally, organically as a quarterback here. Being a leader kind of goes hand in hand. I’ve been looking forward to that, and I feel like that’s continuing to grow every day.
DID YOU EVER WANT TO BE MORE ASSERTIVE AS A LEADER LAST YEAR BUT FELT YOU COULDN’T BECAUSE YOU WERE A ROOKIE?
I thought, again, that was all natural. Things kind of just naturally happened. Yes, I was a rookie, but I don’t think I was by any means quiet, just the kind of guy who rolled with the punches and went with it. I thought I was still doing my job as a leader as well. I think we can all, the longer we’re playing this game and the more experience we have, we can all just continually step up our leadership for sure.
IS THERE ANYTHING DIFFERENT FROM THIS YEAR VERSUS LAST YEAR?
It’s a good question. I think I just feel more comfortable with everything. I think knowing the playbook, having a better grasp on it is just going to help me feel more efficient with my footwork and more efficient with timing and everything. But from a standpoint of strength and conditioning and all that, I feel good.
DID THE REST AFTER THE SEASON HELP?
The rest, for sure, has helped. More than anything just the mind. Resting the mind after that last offseason that was just a whirlwind. But no, I’m feeling very refreshed and very good.
HOW IMPORTANT IS CONTINUITY HEADING INTO YEAR 2?
That continuity and chemistry is a huge part of this game. Knowing what guys are going to do, knowing what guys are going to do when things break down, knowing their body language, getting that relationship. So it’s great to have those guys [Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews], but at the same time this is also the NFL and things are always changing. So we’re always .. the continuity is great and we’re going to continue to grow that, but we’ve got to always continue to grow with the new guys, because every year new guys are going to step up, and new guys are going to help out. But at the same time, it’s great to have those guys back, for sure.
YOU WERE HANGING OUT WITH THE EAGLES OFFENSIVE LINE A FEW WEEKS AGO. WHAT DID YOU DO AND WHAT WAS THE BENEFIT?
It was good to just get those guys out, hang out, and do some things. We went down the road and shot some shotguns. Just really hung out, bonded, some of the guys love shooting guns, and did it a lot. Some guys it was very new. And then it was good to cook up some steaks and eat and just enjoy time with each other.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF EXTENDING PLAYS MORE AS YOU GET MORE COMFORTABLE IN THE NFL?
Are you talking more running or kind of scrambling when things break down?
I think the biggest thing for me is knowing, like you mentioned, as the year went on, I think you could see that I was more comfortable escaping the pocket, kind of making plays. That just come with time. That comes with knowing really when to force it and push the ball down the field or whatever and knowing when it’s time to go. Time to go make a play. It’s an ongoing learning process. Learning when to throw it away, learning when to take that chance. But I do think that’s a big part of my game as a whole entire offense we can get better at when things break down. There a lot of big plays out there to be made.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS WITH ALSHON AND TORREY OFF THE FIELD?
I think with Alshon, with Torrey, honestly now with LeGarrette [Blount], just getting extra time, whether it’s in the locker room, whether it’s in the training room, whatever we’re doing, I’ll just talk through some things. Especially now that we finally got to go against the defense today, we can go watch the tape. We can come back and communicate ‘Alright, this is what I was looking for from you. Alright, this is what I was feeling.’ Just natural stuff that will happen. Obviously on the field is a big part of it, but there’s always that in the cafeteria, in the locker room, wherever you might be, kind of just trying to tweak and make this thing better.
HOW MUCH TIME DID YOU SPEND WITH MACK HOLLINS BEFORE THE DRAFT?
So Mack and I, as you guy probably know, we have the same agent. So I was down there working out, I had a chance to talk to him. Spend a little time with him and get to know him a little bit, and he’s a great dude. Great dude. When we drafted him, I texted him right away and welcomed him to the team. He’s looking good. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do to help us hopefully sooner than later.
ARE YOU PLANNING THE SAME KIND OF GET TOGETHER RIGHT BEFORE TRAINING CAMP?
Yep. I think that’s going to be an every — it’s going to be an annual thing. Every summer. Not sure where we’re going to go yet and all that stuff, but I think that’s a big part of the quarterback and wide receiver relationship. Even the tight ends and running backs, I think it’s awesome that we can all get together and continue to build that chemistry not just on the field but hopefully do it somewhere that we can all spend some time together and bond as well.
HOW HAS THE NEW-LOOK QUARTERBACK ROOM BEEN?
Nick [Foles] and Matt [McGloin] have been great. Nick is obviously established in this league. Matt has as well. So they both come in with experience and just the quarterback room again, it’s a really healthy environment, it’s a competitive environment but it’s very uplifting and there’s a lot of good ideas flowing back and forth and it’s been a great relationship with both of those guys.
DID YOU ADD ANY WEIGHT?
I didn’t. I’m about exactly where I was last year. Just under 240, 235 consistently.
DID YOU LOSE ANY WEIGHT DURING THE SEASON LAST YEAR?
Not really. I maintained pretty good and I’m pretty much sitting right there as well.