Doug Pederson doesn’t see Alshon Jeffery as an injured, washed-up 30-year-old receiver who doesn’t like his quarterback and is coming off the worst season of his life.
He sees Jeffery as a weapon.
Pederson gave Jeffery a strong vote of confidence in a Zoom chat with Philadelphia media Tuesday morning and said he expects Jeffery to play a major role this coming season.
“He’s a big part of our offense,” Pederson said.
Jeffery, a one-time Pro Bowler with the Bears, caught just 43 passes for 490 yards last year and missed all or part of nine games with a variety of injuries, including a season-ending foot injury he suffered in the first Giants game.
Jeffery hasn’t had more than 843 yards since 2014 in Chicago, and because of his injuries and a guaranteed $9.91 million base salary in 2020, he’s untradeable.
Pederson said Jeffery’s rehab is going well, and although it sounds like he won’t be ready for opening day — if opening day is indeed Sept. 13 — it also sounds like the Eagles expect Jeffery to be available fairly early in the season.
“We do plan to have him in the offense at some point, but if there’s a couple games there when he’s not ready we’re not going to put him out there and wait for him to get healthy,” Pederson said. “But yeah he’s a big part of the process moving forward and he’s a great leader and he’s going to be able to help the young players move along.”
At his best, Jeffery is a mismatch nightmare with his size and wingspan. He has 23 catches for 364 yards and three TDs in five playoff games in an Eagles uniform. His leaping touchdown catch with an injured shoulder in the Super Bowl was an all-time great play.
At his worst, he’s been injury-prone, ineffective and prone to costly drops, including balls off his hands in both the Super Bowl and the 2018 playoff loss to the Saints that turned into interceptions.
Jeffery has played 44 games in an Eagles uniform and has just three 100-yard games but 19 games with fewer than 50 yards.
Among starting wide receivers, his 54.4 yards per game since he joined the Eagles ranks 41st in the NFL.
The Eagles have a lot of question marks at receiver with DeSean Jackson now 33 and also coming off an injury, JJ Arcega-Whiteside coming off a poor rookie season and Jalen Reagor and the other rookies dealing with a rookie offseason with no OTAs or minicamps.
So they could use an experienced veteran like Jeffery. They have to pay him either way. They may as well try to get some production out of him.
Pederson not only said Jeffery’s rehab is going well, he emphasized the positive effect someone like Jeffery can have on the young receivers.
“Alshon’s done extremely well this offseason with his rehab,” Pederson said. “The dialogue that he’s had in the receiver room, being able to converse with some of the young players that we have on our roster and just getting himself back healthy. There’s no timetable for him right now, we just want him to focus on his rehab and get strong.”
It will be just over nine months from the point Jeffery got hurt in early December until the Eagles are scheduled to open the regular season against the Redskins.
Anything the Eagles get out of Jeffery is a bonus, but the more Pederson talks about him, the more it becomes apparent that the team’s expectations are much higher than everybody else’s.
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