Alshon Jeffery

Eagles Injury Update: DeSean Jackson returns in Tampa Bay; Darren Sproles misses practice

Eagles Injury Update: DeSean Jackson returns in Tampa Bay; Darren Sproles misses practice

It looks like old friend DeSean Jackson might be able to play against the Eagles on Sunday after all. 

Jackson, who suffered a concussion during last Sunday’s win over the the Saints, was back on the practice field on Thursday in Tampa. Not only is Jackson coming off a huge game in Week 1, but he’s also killed the Eagles since leaving Philly. 

In five games against the Birds, Jackson is 4-1 and has averaged 88 yards per game. 

Jason Pierre-Paul also returned to practice for the Bucs, while cornerback Brent Grimes did not. The Bucs already put Vernon Hargreaves on IR, so they might be down their top two corners. 

In Philly on Thursday, Darren Sproles (hamstring) and Shelton Gibson (knee) were not practicing at the start of the session. Both popped up on the Eagles’ injury report Wednesday, listed as limited participants. Sometimes when a player is listed as limited like that, it might mean they were injured during practice. 

Sproles obviously played a big role for the Eagles in Week 1, both on offense and special teams. Hamstring injuries can be tough for running backs. And Gibson played just four snaps on offense Thursday, but played special teams and was the Eagles’ primary kick returner. 

Friday’s injury report will have game statuses for Sunday. That’s when we’ll learn if any players are definitively out or listed as questionable. 

While neither is expected to play Sunday, Carson Wentz (knee) and Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) were both practicing again on Thursday. They will presumably be listed as limited again.

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Eagles struggling to replace Mack Hollins

Eagles struggling to replace Mack Hollins

The Eagles don’t often let you see them sweat these days, but their recent moves at wide receiver look downright panicky.

In a matter of 12 days, the Eagles released Kamar Aiken and Markus Wheaton (Sept. 1); added Rashard Davis and Greg Ward to the practice squad (Sept. 2); re-signed Wheaton, guaranteeing his 2018 salary in the process (Sept. 4); released Davis and Ward (Sept. 7); signed Reggie Davis, Braxton Miller and Doren Miller to the practice squad (Sept. 10); worked out Breshad Perriman (Sept. 11); and released Wheaton — again — to re-sign Aiken (Sept. 12).

The most recent change might be less geared toward substituting Alshon Jeffery’s production, pushing Mike Wallace and Shelton Gibson or finding a spark for Nick Foles. It seems now the Eagles are searching for a replacement for Mack Hollins.

In between the flurry of transactions, Hollins landed on injured reserve Sept. 6 after reportedly suffering a “minor setback” in his recovery from offseason hernia surgery. The Eagles have dramatically altered the back end of the depth chart in the days since.

The issue isn’t necessarily on offense. There was certainly some anticipation Hollins would take a step forward in his second NFL season, but we’re talking about a fourth-round pick who recorded 17 receptions for 235 yards and one touchdown including playoffs as a rookie. Anything he gave the Eagles in the passing game was gravy.

Where the Eagles are really feeling the loss is on special teams. Hollins played 50.8 percent of the club’s special teams snaps in 2017. Only four players were on the field a higher percentage of the time, and two (Trey Burton and Najee Goode) departed in free agency.

Without Hollins, Gibson played 81.5 percent of the special teams snaps in Week 1. However, he was used sparingly on offense — only four plays.

Sure, the Eagles also need bodies with their No. 1 receiver still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. But Jeffery began taking part in individual drills on Wednesday and is expected back in uniform in a matter of weeks. His injury doesn’t appear to be the primary concern long-term, and if it is, with respect to Aiken, the front office really needs to do be doing more.

As difficult as it would be to find a stand-in for Jeffery, it seems the Eagles are having a similarly hard time filling Hollins’ role. And while most of the ensuing transactions are so far inconsequential, all the wavering back and forth resulted in the misstep of paying Wheaton $790,000 for a week’s worth of work. By no means is the amount a backbreaker; it’s just rare to see this front office flustered.

This, at least in part, to replace Hollins, not Jeffery.

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Eagles' Alshon Jeffery returns to practice on limited basis

Eagles' Alshon Jeffery returns to practice on limited basis

Alshon Jeffery will practice Wednesday for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in February, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said.

Jeffery will be limited, according to Pederson, but it’s still a significant breakthrough as the Eagles try to get one of their top playmakers back onto the playing field.

“Alshon’s going to be back on the field,” Pederson said Wednesday morning. “He’ll be working individual, group-install stuff, but no 11-on-11.”

The Eagles removed Jeffery from the physically unable to play reserve list before opening day, clearing the way for him to return to practice.

The veteran wide receiver played with a torn rotator cuff last year but starred in the postseason with 12 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns, including a tremendous 34-yard TD from Nick Foles in the first quarter of the Super Bowl.

When will Jeffery play?

That remains unknown, but getting him back on the practice field even on a limited basis is a big step.  

The PUP list is for players who have an existing injury that pre-dates the start of training camp.

Players can be activated off regular-season PUP after six weeks, and since the Eagles removed Jeffery from PUP before the season, that means they expect him to play at some point within the first six weeks of the season.

Jeffery, 27, caught 57 passes for 789 yards and nine touchdowns last year. His 12 total touchdowns in 2017 are sixth most in Eagles history.

Without Jeffery, the Eagles used Mike Wallace and DeAndre Carter along with Nelson Agholor in their opening-day win over the Falcons. 

Agholor caught eight passes but for only 33 yards. Wallace was held without a reception and Carter had just one catch for 10 yards. No other receiver played more than four snaps.

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