As Alshon Jeffery sits, Eagles grow desperate for wide receiver help

As Alshon Jeffery sits, Eagles grow desperate for wide receiver help

You can tell how concerned they are about wide receiver not by what they’re saying but what they’re doing.

Re-signing Markus Wheaton, who they released two days earlier. Adding three receivers — including former Ohio State star Braxton Miller — to the practice squad. Reportedly working out former Ravens first-round pick Breshad Perriman on Monday and scheduling a workout Tuesday with former Browns first-round pick Corey Coleman, who reportedly wound up signing with the Patriots before the Eagles could look at him.

If you’re an unemployed receiver, call the Eagles. They’re interested.

While Doug Pederson may say the Eagles are happy with their current group of wide receivers, it’s clear from their actions that they recognize they need help.

Which is understandable.

Alshon Jeffery remains out indefinitely. Mack Hollins is on injured reserve. Shelton Gibson looked promising in the preseason but got only four snaps on offense last Thursday night in the opener as he dealt with a huge special teams workload (22 of 27 snaps).

Mike Wallace wound up without a catch in his first game as an Eagle, although a couple better thrown Nick Foles deep balls might have changed that (see story). DeAndre Carter played 53 snaps against the Falcons and caught one ball for 10 yards.

Nelson Agholor is really the only receiver the Eagles can count on right now, and even he managed only 33 yards on eight catches because Foles kept throwing him the ball with like nine defenders surrounding him.

It’s a little tough to gauge the current state of the Eagles’ wide receiver corps because Foles was so off-kilter Thursday night. Guys weren’t catching passes but they really weren’t getting a chance to.

And here’s a weird thing: As locked in as he was during the postseason, Foles has not completed a pass to a wide receiver of 20 yards or more in his last five regular-season appearances.

That’s 134 consecutive pass attempts — in the regular season — without a 20-yarder to a wideout.

That’s almost impossible.

He had eight of ‘em in the playoffs (one every 9.5 attempts), but that just adds to the mystery of Nick Foles. What seemed so effortless in the biggest games of his life seems so difficult now.

But it’s not all Foles. The Eagles’ issues with the passing game are a reflection of both the quarterback play and the wide receivers.

Eagles wideouts combined for just 43 receiving yards Thursday night, the fewest yards they’ve gotten from their wide receivers in a season opener since 1966, when Ben Hawkins (2 for 28) was the only wideout to catch a pass from Norm Snead in a 16-13 loss to the Cards at Busch Stadium.

There’s certainly reason to be concerned about Jeffery. He told Jen Vrentas of Sports Illustrated after the game Thursday night: “Some days I feel great, and some days ... a shoulder injury is pretty tough,” adding that he’s still a few weeks away from getting back on the field.

Without Jeffery, Hollins and Torrey Smith, the Eagles are missing three of their four wideouts from last year who caught more than five passes.

Agholor can’t do it all himself. Somebody else has to make plays.

Which is why the Eagles are looking at so many receivers right now.

Here’s the challenge: It’s really difficult to just bring in a receiver who’s on the street and ask him to learn the playbook, get familiar with the quarterbacks, get into football shape and acclimate himself to the coaching staff and go out and make plays after being out of work.

That’s why there’s OTAs and training camp. It’s not going to be easy for the Eagles to find someone who can help before Jeffery does get back.

It would be nice if someone like Jeremy Maclin or Jordan Matthews, who have both played with Foles, could magically turn the clock back a few years, but Maclin is 30 now, has been banged up, and hasn’t had an elite season since 2015. Matthews still isn’t healthy after getting hurt in training camp with the Patriots.

The Eagles need help and they understand that.

Ideally, that help would come from within. With Foles calming down and firing the ball the way we saw in the postseason. With Gibson getting an opportunity to make plays, Wallace developing some chemistry with his new quarterback and Agholor getting a chance down the field.

The bad news is the Eagles desperately need improved wide receiver play. The good news is they know it.

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Eagles bring back cornerback Craig James to practice squad

Eagles bring back cornerback Craig James to practice squad

The Eagles on Wednesday evening signed cornerback Craig James to their practice squad. 

This was the second roster move in what might end up being a busy week for the battered Eagles, who listed 13 players on their first injury report of Week 3. 

James, 23, was just waived by the Eagles on Tuesday to create a roster spot for tight end Alex Ellis in the wake of Dallas Goedert’s injury. James cleared waivers and was re-signed to the practice squad. 

The Eagles initially signed James to their practice squad on Sept. 2, but called him up on Sept. 11. James was active for Week 2 against the Falcons, playing one snap on defense and 11 on special teams. 

But with the injuries, keeping James on the roster was a luxury the Eagles couldn’t afford. With just three healthy receivers, the Eagles will likely need to make at least one more roster move before Sunday’s game against the Lions. 

After adding James, the practice squad is full again at 10 players and the roster is full at 53. 

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Eagles injury update: Corey Clement already out of his sling

Eagles injury update: Corey Clement already out of his sling

His right arm already out of the sling, Corey Clement moved his arms up and down and waved to a few news cameras gathered around his locker to show off his range of motion. 

The Eagles’ running back on Wednesday afternoon was breathing a sigh of relief. 

The shoulder injury Clement suffered on the opening kickoff in the second half Sunday is not serious and he says he’s day-to-day. The sling he wore for two days was just a precautionary measure from the Eagles’ trainers. 

I’m out of the sling already,” Clement said, “so I’m really trying to keep calm, realizing that it’s still early in the season. … I know I’ll be back out there soon.

Clement is among a group of Eagles — Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Dallas Goedert included — who were listed as day-to-day by head coach Doug Pederson earlier on Wednesday, even though none of them practiced. 

Wednesday’s injury report was an estimation because they held a walkthrough: 

Did not practice: Clement (shoulder), Goedert (calf), Jackson (abdomen), Jeffery (calf), Tim Jernigan (foot), Jordan Mailata (back) 

Limited: Derek Barnett (shoulder), Fletcher Cox (toe), Johnathan Cyprien (knee), Rudy Ford (hamstring), Nathan Gerry (knee, calf), Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee)

Full: Nate Sudfeld (wrist)

On the play where Clement was hurt, on the opening kickoff in the second half on Sunday night, he actually fumbled away the football. It was a bad time for a fumble because Atlanta took over and quickly scored a touchdown to go up 17-6.

“I was surprised the damn ball came out,” Clement said. “I was like, ‘how the Hell does that happen?’ And then I didn’t pay attention to how close I was to the ground, so that shook me up a bit.”  

When Clement first hit the ground, he was worried because he landed on his right shoulder, the same one where he tore his labrum back in 2011 at Glassboro High School. 

This injury, he said, isn’t serious at all. 

“I don’t even know what it is,” Clement said, before waving to the cameras. “I got full motion, I’m fine. I’ll be back out there soon, no worries.”

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