Eagles WRs Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith show glimpse of explosiveness

Eagles WRs Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith show glimpse of explosiveness


Thursday night was kind of like Christmas morning. 

Carson Wentz finally got to unwrap his new toys and take them for a spin. 

Wentz threw two touchdowns on Thursday night in the Eagles' 38-31 win over the Dolphins in the third preseason game (see Instant Replay). One went to Torrey Smith. The other went to Alshon Jeffery. 

As the regular season approaches, the Eagles' franchise quarterback looks to be on the same page as his two new weapons (see 10 observations).

"It was great to do it here, do it in front of the fans," Wentz said. "The fans get real excited about that. That's really cool. I've said it all along. I've felt really confident in our chemistry with [Smith and Jeffery], going back to even the spring. But to finally do it in a game-like situation, it's really good to see."

Wentz connected with Smith on a 50-yard deep ball in the first quarter to kick off the scoring in the game. On that play, safety Reshad Jones bluffed his coverage, but was left standing flat-footed. 

"And with a guy like Torrey, if they sit flat-footed, he's going to run right by them," Wentz said. "Just gave him a chance and he did the rest."

That was just the first catch for Smith this preseason. Heck, it was the first time he had been targeted. With the starters likely to sit out the entire fourth preseason game, Smith's preseason stat line will read: One target, one catch, 50 yards, one touchdown. 

But that touchdown might be a sign of things to come. 

The Eagles were second to last in the NFL last season in 30-yard passing plays with 11. They were second to last in the league in 40-yard passes with six. And they were third to last in 50-yard passes with three. 

The Eagles’ receivers had just two catches of 50-plus yards in 2016. Jordan Matthews and Bryce Treggs each had one. 

That might change this season.

"I think that can definitely be a big part of the offense," Wentz said of the deep balls. "I think a guy like Torrey that can run like that is going to open up some things. Whether we actually are completing deep balls or he's just stretching the defense for some underneath stuff to help out guys in the slot like (Zach) Ertz, (Darren) Sproles, you name it. I think that's just a big part of the offense we're going to see expanded out a little more."

From the moment Smith arrived this spring, he has been working with Wentz on those deep passes. It seemed like this summer, Wentz was dropping them in all over the field.  

Smith has a chance to change the dynamic of the offense. 

"I think you have to have balance," Smith said. "We have to be able to run the ball. We have to be able to execute in the quick game as well. But I think that we'll take our shots when we have the chance and Carson's definitely not afraid to take his chances when he sees them." 

After the Eagles' opening drive resulted in that long touchdown bomb, they sputtered on the next two drives. Punt. Tipped-ball interception. 

But then Wentz and the Birds got the ball back on their own 7-yard line and drove 93 yards on five plays with the help of a little hurry-up (see story). The touchdown came on a 15-yard pass from Wentz to the other receiver he found under his tree during free agency. 

On that play, Jeffery caught a 15-yard slant, ran into and out of the end zone before giving the ball to a fan in the first row. 

"It felt great, but at the same time, man, it's just a play," Jeffery said. "Score points, that's what you're supposed to do."

Thursday night was the last time Wentz and his two biggest targets will be in a game together until the opener in Washington on Sept. 10. Jeffery isn't concerned about the lack of time he's had with Wentz because the two will have more practice time and "practice carries over into the game." 

What does he want to see out of the offense heading into the regular season?  

"Whatever it takes for us to win the game, man," Jeffery said. "That's what I want to see because at the end of the day, I want to be holding up the trophy. So that's what I want to see."

That would make Smith and Jeffery gifts that keep on giving.

Report: Donovan McNabb named in NFL sexual harassment lawsuit

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Report: Donovan McNabb named in NFL sexual harassment lawsuit

Donovan McNabb on Monday night was mentioned in a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment at the NFL Network by ex-players and a former executive producer, according to a report by Bloomberg.

McNabb, along with ex-NFL players Heath Evans, Marshall Faulk and Ike Taylor, is being accused of sexual harassment by Jami Cantor, a former female colleague at the NFL Network. Cantor's allegations are part of a wrongful termination suit filed against NFL Enterprises in which she accuses the players-turned-analysts and former executive producer Eric Weinberger of the misconduct, citing multiple incidents. Weinberger is also the president of the Bill Simmons Media Group. Simmons' website, The Ringer, released a statement early Tuesday morning.

Cantor was fired in October 2016, according to the report.

Evans, Faulk and Taylor have been suspended by the NFL Network while an investigation is made into the accusations. Weinberger has been placed on indefinite leave by The Ringer.

McNabb, the former Eagles quarterback who turned 41 last month, is no longer working for the NFL Network and has most recently been featured on ESPN as an analyst. According to the complaint, via the report, McNabb texted Cantor explicit comments.

Per Bloomberg, McNabb's representatives did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

McNabb played 11 seasons for the Eagles from 1999 to 2009 and is the franchise's all-time leader in yards passing (32,873) and touchdown passes (216).

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

On a day that will be remembered most for a player the Eagles lost to an injury (see story), they did learn that they are getting another player back after a long injury rehab.

The Eagles are finally going to get a look this week at rookie second-round pick Sidney Jones at practice. Whether he actually gets into a football game this year is still in doubt.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said that nine months after he blew out his Achilles and eight months after the Eagles drafted him, Jones has finally been medically cleared to practice and will participate to some extent Wednesday when the Eagles get back to work following their win over the Rams Sunday in Los Angeles.

“We're just to the point of just want to see him out there running around, doing football activities outside of the normal workouts that he's been doing,” Pederson said Monday. “Just really changing direction and doing more football work this week.”

Jones tore his left Achilles during his pro day workout on March 11 and has spent the entire season so far on the reserve-non football injury list, which is for players with preexisting conditions dating before the first day of practice.

The Eagles had a window running from Week 7 until this week to activate Jones for practice, and once he practices on Wednesday, they’ll have 21 days to either activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the year.

The Eagles have the luxury of taking their time with Jones, thanks to the play of starting corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, slot corner Patrick Robinson and fourth corner Rasul Douglas.

Before his injury, Jones was projected as a first-round draft pick. The Eagles got him with the 43rd pick, but even if he doesn’t play until opening day next year, he will still be only 22 years old and under contract through 2020.

Jones had nine interceptions, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 8½ tackles for loss and 145 tackles in 40 career games for the University of Washington.

It remains to be seen where Jones will fit in next year, but Robinson, although he has played well, is due to become a free agent this offseason and turns 31 in September.

Douglas and Jones are signed through 2020, Mills through 2019 and Darby through 2018.