WR Alshon Jeffery, CB Ronald Darby expected to make Eagles debuts; Carson Wentz, starters likely to play 1-2 drives

Eagle wide receiver, #17, Alshon Jeffery, right, along with the rest of the team, stretch at the begining of practice at the indoor practice facility because of the rain on Monday. Eagles hold practice indoors due to the rain on Monday 08/07/2017 MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and cornerback Ronald Darby will likely make their Eagles debuts Thursday night in the preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.

Coach Doug Pederson said he’s “leaning” toward playing both players. Jeffery sat out in the preseason opener last Thursday while resting from a shoulder injury. Darby was acquired Friday and will line up against his former team.

Quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles starters are expected to play an amount of time similar to what they did against the Packers last week. That means around one or two drives, depending on the situation.

“We’ve got four of these games. Obviously, if we can get all of our starters and the quarterback in game-shape mode, the bullets really don’t fly for real for another couple of weeks,” Pederson said. “The other thing, we guard against a hit, something in the game that might take [Wentz] out. I guard against that a little bit, but again, I want to make sure he’s mentally in the right frame of mind to go in and start and put a drive together and see if we can get some points.”

Jeffery has taken more snaps in practice in recent days, and there’s much anticipation about the prized free-agent acquisition’s debut. Pederson has been careful with how he’s managed Jeffery this summer, so it’s progress that Jeffery will play in a game. Wentz called it a “long time coming.”

“He feels comfortable, we’ve talked about it, so I feel comfortable with him,” Pederson said.


Should Alshon Jeffery’s lack of activity be a concern?

Darby practiced Sunday for the first time as an Eagle and has been with the first-team defense during the past three days. He’s still learning the scheme, but he’ll get a taste of playing in Philadelphia.

“Give him an opportunity to play, and it would be exciting to watch him in live action,” Pederson said.

Left tackle Jason Peters, who missed Tuesday’s practice because he was excused for a personal reason, is “day-to-day.” Pederson did not know if he would play. If he doesn’t, Lane Johnson would play left tackle.

Running back Wendell Smallwood and right guard Brandon Brooks are considered game-time decisions. Both practiced the past two days, but missed the first game. Smallwood had a hamstring injury, and Brooks had an ankle injury.

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox returned to practice after missing two days with back spasms. Pederson said he felt “good” and had a “good day.”

Quarterback Nick Foles was back on the practice field, but he said Monday he wasn’t going to play Thursday. Tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) and cornerback Ron Brooks (hamstring) have not practiced since getting injured in last week’s game, so they are unlikely to play against the Bills.