PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Alshon Jeffery has been dealing with a nagging shoulder injury during training camp. Jeffery is now also dealing with one less experienced receiver to work with in 2017.
The main reason Jordan Matthews was traded to Buffalo was to acquire cornerback Ronald Darby. However, the move would not have been made if the Eagles did not have confidence in their current group of receivers. Leading the way for the 2017 edition of the receiving core is Jeffery, who was the team's prized free agent pickup in the off-season. For Jeffery, the focus remains the same no matter who else is lining up with him on Sundays.
"It's all about getting better," said Jeffery. "We're trying to make each other better. We're trying to win a championship so we've got to keep working each and every day."
Jeffery has the talent to be one of the top receivers in the NFL every time he takes the field, but staying on the field has been a challenge in recent years. Jeffery was suspended for four games last season and also had his 2015 campaign cut short due to an injury. However, offensive coordinator Frank Reich believes Jeffery has the ability to put together a huge season as his unit continues to deal with life after Matthews.
"I think there's probably mixed emotions," Reich said. "Definitely the lead emotion is excitement. When you lose a good buddy and a good teammate, everyone hurts for that because in this game, we get very close. The players, especially, are very close among themselves. Now, it's mixed with an opportunity for some other guys to step up and be a big factor in our offense."
Jeffery got an up close and personal look at the Eagles newest cornerback. Jeffery and Darby were matched up throughout much of the Monday morning practice and Jeffery believes going against Darby will help to better prepare him for the regular season.
"It's great to have that competition," said Jeffery. "He's got great closing speed. He's a great player. Competition is good. At the same time, we're making each other better."
Jeffery could be the key to the Eagles' passing attack this season. When the talented receiver is on the field, he has the potential to be a game breaker. Jeffery was not on the field last week when the Eagles opened up the preseason in Green Bay as he sat out with a shoulder injury. Jeffery is hoping to play Thursday night against Buffalo at the Linc, but doesn't know yet if he will be cleared to play despite a full day of work at practice Monday.
"We'll see," Jeffery said. "I would like to."
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