Eagles

Eagles

Alshon Jeffery is every bit as quiet as Josh Norman is loud and boisterous. 

So there's a good chance Washington's brash cornerback will start to talk trash on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field. There's also a good chance Jeffery will simply shrug his shoulders and jog back to the huddle seemingly unfazed.

Trash-talking isn't Jeffery's thing. It's Norman's bread and butter. 

Jeffery and Norman faced off last year on Christmas Eve in Chicago when Jeffery was still with the Bears. Norman traveled and lined up against Jeffery on every snap. On Wednesday, Jeffery said he couldn't recall if Norman talked trash in that game. 

But with Norman's track record, there's a pretty darn good chance he did. And there's also a pretty good chance Jeffery shrugged his shoulders and jogged back to the huddle. 

"I just go out and just play football," Jeffery said on Wednesday afternoon. "I let my game do the talking. All that other stuff will take care of itself."

The two will battle again this week as the Eagles open their season in Washington against a division foe. While Washington's head coach Jay Gruden said the team hasn't yet decided if Norman will travel to cover Jeffery throughout the game, the Eagles aren't going to buy that type of indecision. They're preparing as if Norman will spend his afternoon in Jeffery's grill. After all, Gruden didn't commit to traveling Norman but did hint that way. 

 

"We know what kind of threat [Jeffery] is," Gruden said.  

Recently, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson went back and watched every one of Jeffery's targets in Chicago from the last couple of seasons. That included last year's game against Norman, when Jeffery caught five of 10 targets for 92 yards. 

"I just wanted to go back and, No. 1, see him against Josh Norman," Pederson said. "I think it's important to see how he played, good or bad. How did Josh play him? I think you can learn a lot from that. And then just watch the type of routes he was running. There's good and bad on the film. It's not all the positives; it's not a highlight film, by no means. It's the good and the bad. Alshon won his share and Josh won his share. It's a good battle. I think those two have a lot of respect for each other and it's great competition. I just wanted to see how he handled a little pressure in those situations."

Jeffery said he doesn't get more amped up or even care who covers him, but he does seem impressed with Norman as a cornerback. He compared him to his teammate in Chicago, two-time Pro Bowler Charles "Peanut" Tillman because of the way Norman makes plays on the ball. 

Norman can be an aggressive player — is there a way to take advantage of that?  

Well, Jeffery said he and Eagles receivers coach Mike Groh, who was also with him in Chicago, would work every day with Tillman. Those lessons taught Jeffery how to play against a player like that, who is always trying to punch the football out. 

"Figuring out ways to catch the ball and keep the defenders from breaking up the ball," Jeffery said. 

Jeffery enters this season on a one-year deal with something to prove. After two straight 1,000-yard seasons in 2013 and 2014, he had just 807 receiving yards in 2015 and just 821 in a 12-game season in 2016. He's hoping to regain form after teaming up with Carson Wentz in Philly. 

The Eagles used Jeffery sparingly in this preseason and even in training camp, when Jeffery suffered a shoulder injury and was then held out even after he healed thanks to a decision by Pederson. 

Eagles fans haven't gotten to see much of Jeffery so far, so Sunday will be an exciting day. 

"I definitely encountered it. Everyone is telling me how excited they are to see me play," Jeffery said. "At the same time, I'm excited myself. I can't wait to see what I'm going to do out there myself. Sunday is going to take care of itself. We're just going to go out there and play our ball."

Jeffery is one of a few new additions to the Eagles' offense, along with Torrey Smith and running back LeGarrette Blount. With a healthy offensive line and a more experienced Wentz, expectations for the offense have risen in 2017. 

 

"Hopefully we go out there and we score a lot of points," Jeffery said. "That's all I expect. As long as we get the win, that's all that matters."