Eagles

Alshon Jeffery doesn't feel behind after missing time during Eagles camp

Alshon Jeffery doesn't feel behind after missing time during Eagles camp

On Saturday afternoon, Eagles receivers coach Mike Groh said he thought big free-agent pickup Alshon Jeffery was a little behind after missing time this training camp.

Jeffery doesn't agree.

"Not at all," Jeffery said Sunday. "But at the same time, missing a few practices here and there just getting some timing down — I'll be all right."

Jeffery missed considerable time this summer, first with a shoulder injury and then because Doug Pederson used his "discretion" to hold the star receiver out of practice.

After missing practice time, Jeffery also missed the first preseason game in Green Bay. He did play Thursday night against the Bills with mixed results. He caught a couple passes for 23 yards but also made some mistakes.

"I think he's behind," Groh said Saturday. "Anytime you miss the amount of time he did. He's a little bit behind but fortunately, we have time for him to catch up on all that. I thought they got off to a good start the other night."

On one play in particular, instead of running a corner route, Jeffery ran an out. Similar … but not the same. Groh said it was Jeffery's responsibility to know the route but said in a non-game plan week, the team probably didn't practice it. And it was possible Jeffery's missed time led to the mix-up.

On Sunday, Jeffery just saw it as a mistake.

"It's the game of football," he said. "Every once in a while you're going to run a wrong route, make some mistakes on a few plays. But I'll be all right."

The most important thing for Jeffery over the next three weeks before the start of the regular season is building his chemistry with Carson Wentz. While the two have been together now since the spring and Jeffery went to North Dakota with the other receivers, there's still a feeling-out process going on.

Groh said there's not a normal amount of time for quarterbacks and receivers to get on the same page, but did note Wentz and Jeffery take extra reps together during special teams periods in an attempt to catch-up.

A big part of Jeffery's game is timing routes like fades. When asked if it takes even longer to build chemistry with a receiver like that, Groh had a different theory.  

"I think it may take less time with really good players," he said. "They just kind of have a feel for each other. One of the things that has helped Alshon be a productive player, I think his body language is very easy to read and judge for quarterbacks. When he and Carson get out here and Carson starts to learn that body language, where he likes the ball, with the accuracy Carson can throw with, it'll probably work out well."

For the next two days, Jeffery will get a chance to look across the field to the other sideline and see a guy who he once built that chemistry with. Jay Cutler, who was Jeffery's QB in Chicago, is now the starter for the Dolphins, who will be in town for two joint practices in advance of Thursday's game at the Linc.

Jeffery said it'll be a little weird to see Cutler, but he's looking forward to catching up with his old teammate, whom he played with from 2012 through last season.

How long did it take for him and Cutler to forge chemistry?

"Over time and over years," Jeffery said. "We were together for a long time so when we'd line up, I'd know what he wants and he knows what I like. It takes time over years. We'd been together five years."

A staple of the Chicago offense with Cutler and Jeffery were back-shoulder throws, ones that can be completed only when the quarterback and receiver are in sync.

Eventually, the Eagles hope Wentz and Jeffery will get them down too.

"In time. In due time," Jeffery said. "Each and every practice we get better. In due time, it'll get better."

Kamu Grugier-Hill proves everyone wrong as … Eagles' kicker

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Kamu Grugier-Hill proves everyone wrong as … Eagles' kicker

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Kamu Grugier-Hill's career as an NFL kicker got off to a rather inauspicious start. 

After Jake Elliott left the game with a concussion, the linebacker began to warm up his right leg on the Eagles' sideline in the first half of the 37-9 win over the Cowboys (see breakdown)

His first kick sailed wide right, missing the net and soaring into the stands. 

"Oh yeah," fellow linebacker Najee Goode said with a smile. "He definitely hit somebody. He hit a fan and the fan stood up."

Before that practice kick, punter Donnie Jones offered to move the net closer to Grugier-Hill, but the emergency kicker declined. 

That was a mistake. 

"I was like, 'Oh this is going to be a little rough,'" Grugier-Hill said about that miss. "After that, I kind of got a hold of it."

After that first bad attempt, Grugier-Hill settled down and actually had a decent showing as a kicker (see Roob's observations). He practiced some in the dark during a Jerry Jones ceremony at halftime. 

He didn't attempt any field goals or extra points, but he did kick off after four touchdowns and even got a touchback on one of them. 

Grugier-Hill, 23, practiced kicking just one time this season. Chris Maragos had been the Eagles' emergency kicker until he went down for the season with a knee injury. Fipp made Grugier-Hill practice it once. 

Despite practice time, Grugier-Hill was confident in his kicking abilities. He played soccer through sophomore year in high school and said he was an All-Conference and second-team All-State punter in high school in Hawaii. 

"I knew he could kick," cornerback Jalen Mills said. "We call him the Flying Hawaiian. He can do it all."

The Eagles were able to joke about Grugier-Hill's kicking prowess in the winning locker room, but for a while, they were in a precarious situation. 

Coming out after halftime, they were trailing 9-7 and had to play the rest of what looked like a close game without a kicker. 

Goode said it was obviously a blow, but noted the Eagles' offense was able to help out because they can put up points (see report card)

It did change the game because the Eagles didn't try any field goals after Elliott left the game and they went for two on all four of their second-half touchdowns. They converted on three of four. 

"I don't even know if everybody on offense knew right away," Carson Wentz said. "I was in the know, but I don't even think everyone knew. It is what it is. We executed I thought pretty well on those two-point plays. That's why you have a lot of those plays dialed up. You don't think too much about it." 

While the Eagles didn't announce when Elliott suffered his concussion, it's likely it happened on the opening kickoff. Return man Ryan Switzer took the kickoff 61 yards, but Elliott was there to greet him on the sideline to help prevent a touchdown. It looked like Elliott took a shot to the head. 

He continued to play, but after missing a 34-yard attempt was taken inside to get checked out. 

After Elliott went inside, Grugier-Hill began to practice kicking. It was an unusual situation for him, but he claimed he wasn't nervous. 

"Everyone expected me to do bad anyways," he said, "so I [didn't] have anything to lose."

Eagles 37, Cowboys 9: Studs, duds, turning point and more

Eagles 37, Cowboys 9: Studs, duds, turning point and more

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON, Texas -- For a while, it looked like the Eagles' winning streak might come to an end in North Texas. 

It didn't come close. 

In the first half, Carson Wentz didn't quite look himself, the run defense wasn't playing to form and the kicker went down with a concussion. 

Didn't matter. 

Eventually, Wentz pulled through, the defense tightened up enough and a backup linebacker showed he can actually kick off. 

The Eagles beat the Cowboys, 37-9, Sunday night at AT&T Stadium to remain the top team in the entire NFC (see Roob's observations). They were just the better team.

The Eagles have now won eight straight games. 

With the win, the Eagles improved to 9-1 on the season for the fifth time in team history. The Cowboys fell to 5-5 on the season. The Eagles are now 4-0 in the division. 

This is the fifth time in team history the Eagles are 9-1 after 10 games (2004, 1980, 1960, 1949). They are just the 51st team in the Super Bowl era to start with nine wins in their first 10 games. Of those previous 50, all made the playoffs, 23 went to the Super Bowl and 11 won it. 

The Eagles started off the game with a brilliant first drive after a Cowboys field goal. They cruised down the field to score a touchdown without even facing a third down. But then the offense sputtered the rest of the half. 

The Cowboys took a 9-7 lead into halftime. It was the first halftime deficit the Eagles had faced since Week 2 in Kansas City. 

Turning point 
After a bizarre first half, the Eagles came out on the first drive of the second half and went 75 yards on eight plays to take the lead. The Eagles converted two huge third downs on the drive. The first came on a screen pass to Brent Celek, the next came on a beautiful pass from Wentz to Alshon Jeffery. 

Key stat
This is the first time the Eagles have scored 30-plus points in four consecutive games since the 1953 season. 

Offensive stud
Wentz didn't have his best performance, but when it mattered, the Eagles' franchise quarterback made plays (see report card). Forget the stat line, Wentz did his job and made some tremendous plays in the process. 

The Eagles' running game was also great Sunday. They rushed for a season-high 215 yards. 

Offensive dud
Zach Ertz's first catch didn't come until very late in the first half and it went for just two yards. He wasn’t a very big factor. 

Defensive stud
Ronald Darby had a great return to action. He started at right cornerback, made a few big plays and even grabbed an interception. 

Defensive dud
The Eagles' run defense, which has been the best unit in the NFL, gave up plenty of yards on the ground Sunday. After giving up an average of 66.4 rushing yards per game coming into Sunday, the Cowboys rushed for 112. 

Key plays
• Chris Long got a strip sack in the fourth quarter. Nigel Bradham picked up the ball and ran it into the end zone to put the Eagles up, 35-9. The two-point conversion made it 37-9. 

• Wentz completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jeffery on 4th-and-5 in the fourth quarter to put the Eagles up 29-9. The Eagles didn't convert the two-point conversion. 

• Wentz hit Torrey Smith for an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter and then hit Jeffery for the two-point conversion to put the Eagles up 23-9. 

• Jay Ajayi broke off a 71-yard run in the third quarter. It was the longest of his career. It was the longest run from an Eagle since Brian Westbrook had a 71-yarder in 2006. 

• Wentz delivered a huge third-down pass to Jeffery on the first drive of the second half. Corey Clement scored a touchdown and then caught a pass for the two-point conversion. The Eagles had to go for two without kicker Jake Elliott (see Rookie Report)

• After starting the game 0 for 5 on third downs, the Cowboys converted three in a row before Mike Nugent hit a 47-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 9-7 lead with 55 seconds left in the first half. 

• Near the end of the first quarter, Malcolm Jenkins tipped a pass and Darby hit the receiver as the ball got there. That's when Rodney McLeod picked off the pass and took it down to the Dallas 15-yard line. But then Elliott missed a 34-yard field goal. 

A little later, Darby got a pick and the Eagles' drive resulted in a punt. 

• Darby had a big pass breakup against Dez Bryant in the end zone late in the first quarter. It forced the Cowboys to settle with another field goal, cutting into the lead 7-6. 

• Kenjon Barner made a spectacular catch on the sideline for a 22-yard gain and then finished off the 75-yard drive with a touchdown run to put the Eagles up 7-3 in the first quarter. 

• Ryan Switzer returned the opening kick 61 yards, which led to a 48-yard field goal from Nugent to put the Cowboys up 3-0. The Eagles' defense shut down the Cowboys' offense to minimize the damage. 

Injuries 
Jeffery (ankle) was active after being listed as questionable heading into the weekend. 

The Eagles lost Elliott in the first half because of a concussion (see story)

Up next
The Eagles return home for a matchup against the Bears (3-7) next Sunday at 1 p.m. After that, the Eagles head to Seattle for a game on Dec. 3, before staying in California for the week leading into the game against the Rams.