Eagles Mulling Over Options at WR
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - There is often a yin and yang to life, a mysticism confirmed again in South Philadelphia this week.
Just as the Eagles get their superstar quarterback back in the lineup, another receiver is departing it and when Philadelphia welcomes Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday the offense will be operating without its top three projected outside receivers when training camp began: Alson Jeffery (still rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery), Mike Wallace (fractured fibula) and Mack Hollins (on IR with a groin problem).
Wallace was the latest to join the Eagles MASH unit when he went down in the first quarter of the Eagles' loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
On Monday, Doug Pederson said Wallace is expected to miss some time but injured reserve wasn't the immediate response in lieu of further tests.
"We're still going to evaluate," the head coach claimed. "He's got a few more tests in the next couple of days, but we know exactly [what it is]. It's a fracture and that's going to be a couple of weeks."
With Jeffery remaining "week to week" as a projected six-month rehabilitation from rotator cuff surgery reached toward the seventh month, that means the Eagles would be carrying two receivers on the 53-man roster who can't help Wentz in the short term.
The healthy receivers are Nelson Agholor, who is best-suited in the slot, along with non-descript veteran Kamar Aiken, who was already released once and brought back, as well as the unproven Shelton Gibson and DeAndre Carter, a reality that had Pederson pondering outside help.
"It goes back to us always and constantly looking outside to help bring in some guys," he said. "If you just asked me, a veteran player would be a lot easier to work with than a young rookie player to get them caught up, plus a guy that's had game experience. Definitely going to have to rely on the tight ends more, going to have to rely on the running game a little bit more and kind of lean that direction until we can figure this out."
One high-profile option was taken off the table when the New England Patriots dealt for talented but troubled wideout Josh Gordon and future conditions if Gordon's addiction problems blow up again from Cleveland for a fifth-round pick. Despite a manageable salary and little compensation to bring Gordon in, an NFL source confirmed to 973espn.com that the Eagles had little interest in going down that road,
The other high-profile receiver on the market, former Dallas All-Pro Dez Bryant, was recently telling some close to him that he would ultimately end up in New England, an unlikely scenario now. His immediate emotional response to being released by the Cowboys was to play in the NFC East in order to exact revenge on his former organization and Philadelphia lit up a bit on Monday with airport employees and random fans "spotting" Bryant at the airport.
To date, Bryant has wanted more money than the Eagles would like to spend and had lost much of the explosion that made him an All-Pro anyway since a Jones fracture in his foot. Philadelphia's receivers coach, Gunter Brewer, does have a history with Bryant when they were both at Oklahoma State, however.
Other veterans on the street include former Eagles slot receiver and Wentz's good friend Jordan Matthews, another former Bird Jeremey Maclin, Kenny Britt, and Corey Coleman, a former first-round pick in Cleveland who the Eagles wanted to look at last week before the Pats signed him. Coleman is now back in play because he was released in New England to make room for Gordon.
A lesser option is practice squad receiver Braxton Miller, although it was pretty clear Pederson would like more experience.
"I mean he's made an impression," Pederson said when discussing Miller. "But, he's another one that we have to continue to coach up and see where he's at, because he hasn't had any real exposure to our offense yet."
Whatever the Eagles plan to do will likely be confirmed Tuesday because any addition would need to be on the practice field Wednesday as preparation for the Colts begins.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen