Cutler Believes Eagles Have the Real Deal in Alshon Jeffery
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - In town for two days of joint practices with the Eagles in advance of Thursday's preseason game, new Miami quarterback Jay Cutler was intent on getting in his work in advance of the regular season.
And the veteran quarterback was surprised to find a horde of media members waiting to ask about his old friend from Chicago, first-year Eagles' receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Jeffery, Philadelphia's prized free-agent pickup in the offseason, had a productive on-field relationship with Cutler when both were with the Bears but has caught a little flack recently for running the wrong route on one particular play during the opening drive of last week's exhibition game against Buffalo.
Limited time in practice due to a lingering shoulder injury may have contributed to Jeffery's issue and Cutler insisted there is no need for alarm.
"He'll be fine," Cutler claimed when discussing his old WR1 on Monday after practice. "Obviously, I don't know what's going on here but as long as he's healthy, he's a pro. He knows football. He has a great feel for those sort of things. If he's healthy, he's not a guy I'd worry about."
Cutler and Jeffery were particularly symbiotic when it came to the back-shoulder fade in the Windy City, which became one of the more dangerous weapons in the NFL at times when the two were clicking.
"You guys are worried about Alshon?" Cutler laughed. "..."You just throw it out there and he'll make it right. You get him one-on-one, throw to his back-shoulder, put it over the top and it's hard to cover a guy like that. I'm sure Carson (Wentz) is one of those guys that has witnessed his ability to make special catches."
Miami coach Adam Gase, who had Cutler and Jeffery for one year as the offensive coordinator in Chicago, had a similar assessment.
"He's the first player I ever had where I called a play and it was just throw it to Alshon," the coach said.
-Both Brandon Graham and Jordan Hicks left practice early with Graham's injury reported as a strained triceps. Rookie Derek Barnett returned from missing one day with a lower-body injury.
-Remaining out were WRs Brice Treggs (leg soreness) and Paul Turner (fractured scapula) as well as OL Josh Andrews (hand) while LB Najee Goode was added to the injury list.
-With both Hicks and Goode out of the picture, second-year man Joe Walker got a lot of first-team reps and had a difficult time in coverage at times with Julius Thomas.
-Cutler still has the golden arm and showed it off during 7-on-7 red-zone drills when he fired a bullet to Kenny Stills for a TD on a post route at the back of the end zone with Rodney McLeod trailing.
-Other highlights of the session included a fake FG try in which holder Donnie Jones rolled out and passed to Brent Celek as well as a perfect Wentz deep throw down the ride sideline which hit Torrey Smith in stride. Ex-Eagles CB Byron Maxwell was in coverage. Smith also got Maxwell on a double move later but that likely would have resulted in a sack during a live environment.
-Later on, Maxwell and another ex-Eagles player, LB Kiko Alonso, had perfect bracket coverage on Zach Ertz during team drills.
-Former Eagles starting safety Nate Allen was also back with the Dolphins and he is in line to potentially start with T.J. McDonald out for an eight-game suspension at the start of the year.
-Among those taking in the practice were former Sixers superstar Charles Barkley, Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly, Marlins' 2B Dee Gordon and former Eagles Stephen Tulloch and Freddie Mitchell.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen