Amidst the endless debate on whether to start Carson Wentz week one or not, Alshon Jeffery’s injury and status to open the season has gone almost completely under the radar. Any other offseason, this would have been the number one headline going into camp; “Will Alshon Be Ready for the Start of the Season?”
It seems that no one has a definitive answer on this matter. Coach Pederson was asked about this after practice a week ago and had this to say:
“You know what, I’m not going to comment on that because we’re monitoring his progress. It’s day-to-day, we’re happy where he’s at, and we’ll continue to do that.”
So, no one outside of the organization truly knows the timetable for Alshon’s return. Rotator cuff surgery usually entails about a 4-6 month recovery time, so it’s going to be a close call for week one. If it turns out that he’s not ready to start the season, he’ll likely be on the PUP list which means he’ll be ineligible to play for the first 6 weeks of the season.
I’m still holding out faith that he’ll be ready for the season opener. If he was able to gut it out through an entire season with a torn rotator cuff, he definitely has the toughness to play through some soreness he may have from his rehab.
Even if he does start the season on the PUP list, I believe the Eagles offensive arsenal has enough weapons to compensate for his lost production. Pederson’s offense has never been predicated around one receiver or one running back; he and Wentz both like to spread the ball around.
Looking at the receiving corps specifically, the Eagles are deeper at that position than some fans may think. If Alshon is out for the beginning of the season, we’ll most likely see Mike Wallace assume the number one receiver role for the offense. That doesn’t mean he’ll get the most targets or garner the most attention from the defense necessarily, it simply means he’ll line up where Alshon would normally line up on the field.
At the number two spot, there will most likely be a rotation of receivers led by Nelson Agholor. Agholor proved last season that he’s most effective when working out of the slot, so I don’t think coach Pederson and company are going to want to put Agholor in a position that doesn’t play to his strengths. He’s the most athletically gifted wide out on the roster and his speed and quickness in the slot are a nightmare for opposing defenses.
If I had to predict who else would be in the rotation, it would have to be Shelton Gibson and Mack Hollins. Gibson has clearly been the most improved player so far through the preseason and his year one to year two development might just land him a roster spot. Not only that, but none of the other wideouts fighting for a spot have done anything to stand out. The only reason I throw Hollins in the rotation is because he’s a lock to make the roster; not necessarily as a contributor on offense, but for his great special teams play. He’s also been hurt for most of camp, which has stunted his devlopment somewhat, but I still think he has a chance to contribute on the offense if Alshon misses the first six weeks.
With all this being said, I still do believe Alshon will play week one. Like I said before, if he managed to play through a completely torn rotator cuff for all of last season, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to strap it up after a 6-7 month recovery.