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Eagles' Alshon Jeffery needs time to heal shoulder injury, but is eager to pursue another title

The Eagles' top wide receiver played all season with a torn rotator cuff. Now he's healing from surgery and hoping to play in the preseason.

Alshon Jeffery, the Philadephia Eagles’ top wide receiver played all season – including in the Super Bowl – with a torn rotator cuff. Now he’s healing from surgery and hoping to play in the preseason.
Alshon Jeffery, the Philadephia Eagles’ top wide receiver played all season – including in the Super Bowl – with a torn rotator cuff. Now he’s healing from surgery and hoping to play in the preseason.Read moreMichael Bryant/Staff Photographer

The right arm rests in a black sling. It's the arm that cradled the ball as Alshon Jeffery fell to the turf in the U.S. Bank Stadium end zone with the first touchdown of Super Bowl LII, back on Feb. 4.

"Not too much, right now," Jeffery said, when asked what activities he is allowed, about six weeks after rotator cuff surgery to fix a problem the Eagles' No. 1 wide receiver endured for the entire Super Bowl season. "Just trying to loosen it up."

Jeffery fell hard on his right shoulder early in training camp, back on July 30. He missed four days of practice and was held out of the preseason opener, after suffering what the team termed a shoulder strain. But Jeffery said Thursday, at an appearance at the Boys and Girls Club of Bridesburg  to deliver a $25,000 check from sponsor Kids Foot Locker, that when he got an MRI right after suffering the injury, there was talk of surgery right away, which he said would have cost him the season.

Jeffery, playing then on a one-year free-agent deal, didn't think that was optimal.

I was like, 'No, there's no way you're going to do that. We got to figure out another situation,' " Jeffery recalled.

The Eagles' medical staff ultimately determined that after rehab, he could play with minimal discomfort. Jeffery didn't miss a game, playing 82 percent of the offensive snaps, and catching 57 passes for 789 yards and nine touchdowns. He added 12 catches for 219 yards and three TDs during the postseason, playing 89 percent of those snaps. The yards are the most ever compiled by an Eagles wide receiver in the playoffs.

Along the way he agreed to a four-year deal that could pay as much as $52 million.

Jeffery won't participate in this spring's OTAs, which will start April 16. He could be ready for the preseason and should ber eady for the regular season, as the Eagles attempt to defend the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

"It's been awesome, it's been great. The city of Philadelphia has been crazy. I want to do it again," said Jeffery, who rang the Sixers' ceremonial bell before their March 24 victory over the Timberwolves.

Toward that end, when wideout Mike Wallace was trying to decide whether to take the Eagles' one-year free-agent offer last month, Jeffery was among the players Wallace consulted.

"What he brings to the table and what we're capable of doing, it's a great mix," Jeffery said. "He brings the deep speed, definitely. … Yards after catch, big-play ability. But I know he has passion for the game of football, plus he has the experience of being in the Super Bowl [with the Steelers, who lost to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV]."

Jeffery, like most of the NFL, is wondering how the new, simplified rules determining what is or isn't a catch will be called.

"I'm pretty sure there's still going to be controversy, no matter what," he said. "We'll see."

Jeffery dipped a toe into controversy recently when he responded to a tweet from former Patriots corner Malcolm Butler, Butler asserting that the Pats would have beaten the Eagles had Butler not been held out of the game. Jeffery, who said he doesn't know Butler, tweeted that New England still would have lost.

"I just told the truth," Jeffery said. "That's like saying, 'If Carson [Wentz] was playing,' like, J.P. [Jason Peters] and all the injured guys. That doesn't matter."

Jeffery said he's spent a lot of time since the Super Bowl "just hanging out with my family, hanging out with my daughter [Kaiya, who is 1]. Just being able to share that moment with her, that's just exciting."

Jeffery said he has watched Super Bowl LII three or four times. He watches with a critical eye.

"I feel like I could have made a better play here or there, or we could have done this or that differently," he said. "I watch from all different angles."

His favorite moment, he said, is the final touchdown, Zach Ertz launching himself into the end zone with 2 minutes,  21 seconds remaining.

"Seeing Zach reaching across that goal line, placing the ball," Jeffery said. "Once we scored that touchdown, I figured the defense could take care of everything else."