Nick Fierro
The Morning Call

Toward the end of the Philadelphia Eagles' first full-squad practice of 2017, quarterback Carson Wentz took aim at a green dot in a sea of white down the field and heaved a bomb in that general direction during a team scrimmage.

The target was not hit. The sea of white defensive jerseys was just too much for wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and his green jersey to overcome. Safety Rodney McLeod came down with the interception.

Look for scenes like that to be repeated as Wentz tries to build rapport with all his fancy new weaponry. Jeffery is one of five brand-new receivers on a roster that also features three brand-new running backs and a new tight end.

Getting everything synced is going to take some time. How much is anyone's guess. That's one of their main projects during Organized Team Activities (OTAs), which began Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex.

"Yeah, it's a fine line," coach Doug Pederson said before heading out onto the field. "I mean, having played the position and working with new guys even in my career, it takes time. It takes time to develop and sometimes time that you don't have with the way the offseason is structured. But these guys also worked a little bit beyond the in-house rules, so to speak, here where they were able to work on their own, work together, and even before OTAs, even before the offseason started."

Jeffery was the considered the finest free agent on the market when the Eagles brought him in. Fellow newcomer Torrey Smith was right up there, too. The Eagles also drafted receivers Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson and signed undrafted free agent Greg Ward in an attempt to surround their young quarterback with more options than he had as a rookie last year.

After practice, Wentz said he's doing his best to help accelerate the inevitable evolution of a dynamic offense.

"It's a work in progress, no doubt about it," he said. "It's a work in progress for guys I've been here with a year now. It's just an ongoing process, putting in new plays, new routes. Things are always changing. ... I feel very comfortable with them, but at the same time, we're just going to continue to build that relationship."

To that end, Wentz does plan to keep a tradition that dates back to the days of Donovan McNabb of assembling the receivers, backs and tight ends for a player-organized minicamp at a site and time to be determined before training camp.

"I think that's a big part of the quarterback-wide receiver relationship," he said. "Even the tight ends and running backs, I think it's something we can all get together, just continue to kind of build that chemistry on the field but also hopefully do it somewhere where we can all just be together and spend some time and bond as well."

Jeffery and Smith, who battled through some leg stiffness that he said was nothing serious, took most of the reps as the first-team outside receivers, with Jordan Matthews handling the slot.

Even though the presence of all the new blood at receiver could have an impact on Matthews' chances of remaining with this team beyond his rookie contract (which expires after this season), Matthews has welcomed them all.

"I actually like some of the moves they made," Matthews said. "Alshon and Torrey have come in. They've been great fits. I've watched these dudes for awhile now, and when I heard we were going to get both of them, they both bring a different element to the team. But at the same time, they both have attributes that people look over."

The process of integrating all these new receivers as well as rookie running backs Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement and veteran free-agent running back LeGarrette Blount into the offense is something that will come with considerable growing pains.

How much of that they can get out of the way before they open their season will go a long way toward determining whether they can turn the corner and have a winning record for the first time in three years.

"I don't think there's a timetable on it," Smith said. "We just need to be where [Wentz] expects us to be. That's our job and we'll get it done this offseason."


Coach 'em up Dougie !