The Eagles practiced Thursday again without top wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who was sidelined for the third consecutive day with a strained right shoulder.

The team is unalarmed, secure in the position that they're simply being careful with a player who inked a one-year, $9.5 million contract in March to help the offense.

"I think it was more precautionary," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "I just think Alshon came in and has shown us what he can do right away. Just got a little ding here or there. Just precautionary, and then get him ready to go pretty soon."

The Eagles don't open the preseason until Aug. 10 at Green Bay, and the starters aren't likely to receive significant work that night anyway. The regular season doesn't open until Sept. 10, so a strained shoulder on Aug. 3 is not yet reason to panic.

[Thursday's practice observations: Defense strikes back, Mills hits hard, Matthews still not himself]

But watching Eagles practice without Jeffery this summer is like visiting an amusement park and discovering the newest ride is closed for maintenance. Jeffery must be on the field for the Eagles offense to be full strength. Complicating his absence is concern about his injury history, including four different soft-tissue injuries in 2015 that sidelined him for seven games.

Jeffery declined to be interviewed when approached Thursday. Asked how he was feeling, he simply responded, "great!"

The Eagles should hope so. Jeffery appeared to be dynamic during the first week of practice before falling on his shoulder in Saturday's session. He returned on Sunday, but has not practiced yet. When he's on the field, Jeffery can be the difference-maker the offense badly needs.

With Jeffery out, other wide receivers on the depth chart have received more work with the first-team offense. Torrey Smith and Jordan Matthews are givens as starters, but Nelson Agholor and Marcus Johnson are also receiving more work this week.

[Nelson Agholor rolls a strike]

Agholor has excelled throughout the summer, appearing to be a different player than the one who underachieved in recent seasons. That was apparent in Thursday's session, when he finished practice by beating Rasul Douglas for a deep touchdown pass. Agholor has been tracked by the team as reaching the fastest speed of any player in camp: 21.9 mph. A first-round draft pick in 2015, he arrived in the NFL as a refined route-runner. Agholor needs to show he can consistently catch passes in games. So far, it's been his best camp yet.

"It comes down to finishing," Agholor said. "I know how to run routes. I have great body control. I feel I have great speed. Finish the play. When the ball's in the air, make a play on it."

Johnson has been one of camp's biggest surprises, the under-the-radar player who becomes a popular name among fans by the final week of the preseason. A practice-squad player last season, Johnson parlayed a strong spring into a spot with the second-team offense to begin training camp. Jeffery's injury bounced him to working with the starters, and now he's hard to miss because he's catching passes from Carson Wentz.

"It's a lot of first-team reps," Johnson said. "It's a lot of opportunity to show them I know the playbook, that I can make plays against our best defensive players."

Johnson knows the preseason games will help him to a roster spot far more than practice performances. He said practice can put him in position to solidify his standing, but the games will offer the evidence. He also knows his hopes of making the team depend on special teams – early returns are positive about Johnson's special-teams ability – because the Eagles' top four receivers are already set.

Of course, they're only set if Jeffery is healthy. The team is taking precautions, but the coming days will reveal if Jeffery's injury continues to linger and if the depth at the position becomes a bigger focus.

"Whoever lines up, Carson Wentz is our quarterback, we've got to make plays," Agholor said. "My number is called whether Alshon is there or not."