Eagles WRs Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith Show Glimpse of Explosiveness


Thursday night was kind of like Christmas morning. 

Carson Wentz finally got to unwrap his new toys and take them for a spin. 

Wentz threw two touchdowns on Thursday night in the Eagles' 38-31 win over the Dolphins in the third preseason game (see Instant Replay). One went to Torrey Smith. The other went to Alshon Jeffery. 

As the regular season approaches, the Eagles' franchise quarterback looks to be on the same page as his two new weapons (see 10 observations).

"It was great to do it here, do it in front of the fans," Wentz said. "The fans get real excited about that. That's really cool. I've said it all along. I've felt really confident in our chemistry with [Smith and Jeffery], going back to even the spring. But to finally do it in a game-like situation, it's really good to see."

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Wentz connected with Smith on a 50-yard deep ball in the first quarter to kick off the scoring in the game. On that play, safety Reshad Jones bluffed his coverage, but was left standing flat-footed. 

"And with a guy like Torrey, if they sit flat-footed, he's going to run right by them," Wentz said. "Just gave him a chance and he did the rest."

That was just the first catch for Smith this preseason. Heck, it was the first time he had been targeted. With the starters likely to sit out the entire fourth preseason game, Smith's preseason stat line will read: One target, one catch, 50 yards, one touchdown. 

But that touchdown might be a sign of things to come. 

The Eagles were second to last in the NFL last season in 30-yard passing plays with 11. They were second to last in the league in 40-yard passes with six. And they were third to last in 50-yard passes with three. 

The Eagles' receivers had just two catches of 50-plus yards in 2016. Jordan Matthews and Bryce Treggs each had one. 

That might change this season.

"I think that can definitely be a big part of the offense," Wentz said of the deep balls. "I think a guy like Torrey that can run like that is going to open up some things. Whether we actually are completing deep balls or he's just stretching the defense for some underneath stuff to help out guys in the slot like (Zach) Ertz, (Darren) Sproles, you name it. I think that's just a big part of the offense we're going to see expanded out a little more."

From the moment Smith arrived this spring, he has been working with Wentz on those deep passes. It seemed like this summer, Wentz was dropping them in all over the field.  

Smith has a chance to change the dynamic of the offense. 

"I think you have to have balance," Smith said. "We have to be able to run the ball. We have to be able to execute in the quick game as well. But I think that we'll take our shots when we have the chance and Carson's definitely not afraid to take his chances when he sees them." 

After the Eagles' opening drive resulted in that long touchdown bomb, they sputtered on the next two drives. Punt. Tipped-ball interception. 

But then Wentz and the Birds got the ball back on their own 7-yard line and drove 93 yards on five plays with the help of a little hurry-up (see story). The touchdown came on a 15-yard pass from Wentz to the other receiver he found under his tree during free agency. 

On that play, Jeffery caught a 15-yard slant, ran into and out of the end zone before giving the ball to a fan in the first row. 

"It felt great, but at the same time, man, it's just a play," Jeffery said. "Score points, that's what you're supposed to do."

Thursday night was the last time Wentz and his two biggest targets will be in a game together until the opener in Washington on Sept. 10. Jeffery isn't concerned about the lack of time he's had with Wentz because the two will have more practice time and "practice carries over into the game." 

What does he want to see out of the offense heading into the regular season?  

"Whatever it takes for us to win the game, man," Jeffery said. "That's what I want to see because at the end of the day, I want to be holding up the trophy. So that's what I want to see."

That would make Smith and Jeffery gifts that keep on giving.

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