The Philadelphia Eagles are used to having their top wide receivers out in meaningful football games, and Sunday’s in-state showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers will be no different. Head coach Doug Pederson said Alshon Jeffery will not make his season debut against the Steelers after missing practice with an illness. Jeffery was limited in Wednesday’s practice recovering from the LisFranc injury that has sidelined him since last December. The Eagles placed Jeffery on short-term injured reserve so he could return as early as Week 4, but Jeffery will miss his fifth straight game.
DeSean Jackson, meanwhile, is officially listed as out for Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. Jackson missed the Eagles’ Week 4 win over the San Francisco 49ers with the injury, one that has limited him to playing under 55% of the snaps in two of the three contests in which he’s appeared.
“It really hasn’t been a struggle. He’s embraced what the medical staff have put a plan in place for him with his specific injuries and lower body injuries and of course his hamstring,” Pederson said. “It’s all about strengthening and getting him healthy there and making sure that he can — there’s no soreness. You want him to be 100 percent, and so just trusting that plan, that those guys have put together for DeSean, is really what I lean on. Then just talking to DeSean and just seeing how he feels these last couple of days.”
Since Jeffery and Jackson can’t go, the Eagles will rely on Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, and John Hightower at wide receiver for the second consecutive week. Fulgham had two catches for 57 yards in last week’s win, including the go-ahead 42-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Ward finished with four catches for 38 yards in the victory, while Hightower had two catches for 22 yards.
The Eagles will have 2019 second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside back after he missed last week’s game with a calf injury, but he doesn’t have a catch through three games. 2020 first-round pick Jalen Reagor is still on injured reserve recovering from thumb surgery, while the team isn’t ready to give sixth-round pick Quez Watkins a designation for Sunday. Watkins just returned from injured reserve last week and the Eagles are working him back into game shape.
Philadelphia appears to head into Sunday’s matchup thin at wide receiver once again, but that appears to be when Carson Wentz and the offense plays at its best.