The Eagles are set to kick off the 2018 NFL regular season on Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons. While we know who will be under center for the Week 1 matchup, the Eagles’ wide receiver unit will be something to keep an eye out for.
Heading into this matchup, the Eagles were already without number one wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who was activated off the PUP (physically unable to perform) list last week. Head coach Doug Pederson was asked about the status of Jeffery on Tuesday.
“Right now, I’m optimistic, but it’s week-to-week,” he said. “Again, it’s one of those situations where we get through this game, we’ve got another four, five days before we hit the practice field again. We’ll make another determination next week. But he’s another one that’s getting close.”
Even though it sounds like Jeffery will be returning soon, the Eagles will also be without second-year wide receiver Mack Hollins for Thursday, who is dealing with a nagging groin injury.
Hollins was the ideal candidate to fill in Jeffery’s role in the Eagles’ offense. Last season, the former fourth-round pick had 16 receptions for 226 yards and a touchdown.
Therefore, without either guy available for this week’s game, Philadelphia decided to re-sign veteran Markus Wheaton. Wheaton was released over the weekend when teams around the league cut their rosters down to 53 players.
He also missed a significant amount of time in both the preseason and training camp with a hamstring injury. However, Wheaton did play in the team’s final preseason game last week against the New York Jets.
Over his six-year career, Wheaton is averaging 14.2 yards per reception with his best season coming in 2015, where he had a career-high 44 reception (79 targets) for 749 yards and five touchdowns.
The former Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft pick will be taking tight end Richard Rodgers’ spot on the roster as the Eagles placed him on injured reserve. Rodgers suffered a knee injury against the New England Patriots during the second week of the preseason.
With Wheaton back in the fold, the Eagles’ wide receiver unit now consists of him, Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace, Shelton Gibson, and DeAndre Carter. It isn’t an ideal wide receiver group for the Eagles, but there is a ton of big play ability.
For Thursday night’s game, Agholor should be the focal point at wide receiver, receiving a ton of targets with Wallace, Gibson and maybe Wheaton stretching the field to open up things underneath.