Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is still a few weeks away from returning to the field. Jenny Vrentas noted as much after speaking with the Eagles’ most targeted player in 2017 on Thursday evening.
A few notes from last night: Alshon Jeffery said he has “a couple more visits with the doctor” before he can return. “Some days I feel great, and some days ... a shoulder injury is pretty tough,” he said. Asked if he was still a few weeks out, he nodded.— Jenny Vrentas (@JennyVrentas) September 7, 2018
This “news” hardly comes as a surprise since it was originally reported that Jeffery was aiming for a Week 3 return. Maybe that’s still possible. But maybe that’s on the optimistic end and we won’t see Jeffery until Week 4 or Week 5. I could be splitting hairs here but “few” could indicate more than “couple.”
In any case, the sooner Jeffery returns to the field healthy, the better for the Eagles. The absence of Philadelphia’s No. 1 receiver was certainly noticeable about the Falcons on Thursday night.
Earlier this year when the Eagles and Falcons played in the playoffs, Jeffery led Philly in receiving with four catches for 61 yards. The Eagles’ leading wide receiver on Thursday night ended up being Nelson Agholor with eight receptions for a mere 33 yards (a paltry 4.1 average). The only other Eagles receiver to even catch a pass was DeAndre Carter, who had a 10-yarder at one point.
Speaking of Carter, he played 74% of the Eagles’ offensive snaps last night. Now, I like Carter and I’m certainly rooting for him to succeed, but it’s just not an ideal situation when he has to play that much for this team.
Doug Pederson explained that Carter was on the field a lot in the slot because the Eagles wanted to move Agholor to the outside with both Jeffery and Mack Hollins, who was placed on injured reserve earlier on Thursday, not playing.
Getting Jeffery back will allow Agholor to move back inside. It’ll also allow him to draw attention from teams’ best cornerbacks. That should help make life easier on Agholor and Mike Wallace. Or, if a team is going to use a top corner on one of those two guys, then it’s Jeffery who has a favorable matchup.
In the meantime, the Eagles will have to continue to find a way to get by with what they have. The good news is that they’re not exactly set to face a bunch of defensive juggernauts in the coming weeks. Here’s how their next three opponents rank in projected defensive DVOA:
Week 2 - Buccaneers - 26th
Week 3 - Colts - 28th
Week 4 - Titans - 19th
Jeffery’s return should provide a nice boost. He can help the Eagles weather the storm until Carson Wentz gets back. Then the Eagles offense could really start to see some improvement.