Alshon Jeffery missed his second straight day of Eagles’ practice on Thursday as he nurses an ankle injury.
The 29-year-old wide receiver hurt his ankle in the fourth quarter of the Eagles’ 22-14 win over the Chicago Bears on Nov. 3. In his Wednesday news conference, Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Jeffery was still hurting after having the bye week to recover, and would be “day to day."
Jeffery’s had a turbulent season so far, and the Eagles’ receiving corps has struggled to make an impact. He left the team’s Week 2 loss to the Atlanta Falcons with a calf injury that sidelined him the following week against the Detroit Lions. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound wideout is posting career-low yards-per-catch (10.4) and his average yards per game (44.1) is the lowest it’s been since his rookie season with the Bears. Against his former team, Jeffery had three drops.
If he’s unable to return to the field for the Eagles’ game against the New England Patriots on Sunday at 4:25 p.m., the team will likely lean heavily on recently signed receiver Jordan Matthews and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
During the bye week, the Eagles brought Matthews back for his third stint with the team, after DeSean Jackson was placed on injured reserve for the rest of the regular season. Arcega-Whiteside has primarily served as Jeffery’s backup after the team drafted him out of Stanford in the second round of the NFL Draft.
The 6-2, 225-pound rookie was compared to Jeffery during the pre-draft process, and recently learned the entire playbook from the various positions from which the Eagles ask their wide receivers to line up.
But if Jeffery is out, Arcega-Whiteside might be asked to just play his "X" position.
“I may have a big role, I may have a small role,” Arcega-Whiteside said after Thursday’s practice. “Regardless, I’m treating it as if I’m going to be the No. 1 like I do every week.”
Arcega-Whiteside relieved Jeffery against the Falcons and Lions. He had just two catches for 14 yards in 128 snaps. He said he spent the bye week around the facility using the extra time learning the playbook so he would be better prepared to come in when needed.
“I stuck around here because I felt like leaving wasn’t going to do me any good,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “I came here and studied every day ... which helped out a lot because now that I’m back, I feel like I didn’t step away.”