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Jeff McLane: The Eagles' decision to activate Alshon Jeffery is inexcusable

By Jeff McLane, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Football

PHILADELPHIA — Alshon Jeffery has yet to play in a game for the Eagles this season, and, at this point, it's fair to speculate whether he ever will.

Most Eagles fans would be quite all right with that. It's a wonder Howie Roseman continues to welcome the daily reminder of one of his worst contracts, and, perhaps more embarrassing, the inexplicable wasting of a roster spot for seven weeks.

While the Eagles have lost young prospects, such as tight end Noah Togiai and defensive end Casey Toohill, to the waiver wire, and established reserves, such as cornerback Rasul Douglas, all while becoming the most injured team in the NFL, Jeffery has languished on the 53-man roster.

When Roseman made the curious decision to activate the 30-year-old wide receiver off the physically unable to perform list — Jeffery had Lisfranc foot surgery in December — he noted that keeping him on PUP in-season would make him ineligible to return until Week 7.

"We think he's going to be ready before that," Roseman said Sept. 5. "He thinks he's going to be ready before that, and we think he's a good player. So we want to get him back as quick as possible to help this football team."

The flexibility the NFL afforded teams in light of the coronavirus with short-term injured reserve and practice squad call-ups hasn't made roster spots as precious as in previous seasons.

 

But the 1-4-1 Eagles can ill afford to lose opportunities toward the future, and as they've had to scramble each week to find replacements for injured players, Jeffery has seemingly gotten no closer to a return.

"You're exactly right," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Friday when questioned about activating Jeffery at the expense of tough cuts. "We hopefully anticipated him coming back within the six weeks, and it has taken a little bit longer.

"But again, you guys know that I want to make sure that he's 100 percent. He's just now getting back into practice, right?"

Wrong. Jeffery officially started practicing Sept. 24 in a limited capacity as the Eagles headed into a Week 3 matchup against the Bengals. He remained limited the next two weeks until a non-COVID-19-related illness kept him out of practice and was cited by Pederson as a reason for keeping him out for the Oct. 11 game at Pittsburgh.

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