There are storylines aplenty in Sunday’s playoff game between the Eagles and Bears.
Trey Burton is one. The former Philly tight end turned Chicago tight end and the one who threw the pass to Nick Foles to complete the Philly Special in Super Bowl LII has had a marvelous first season in Chicago, with 54 catches for 569 yards and six touchdowns.
The Long brothers are another, with Eagles defensive end Chris Long possibly lining up occasionally against his brother Kyle Long at guard.
Then there’s the coaching angle, with Bears first-year coach Matt Nagy and Eagles coach Doug Pederson having worked together on previous staffs.
The return of Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery to the team that drafted him out South Carolina nearly seven years ago was the first to grow legs, though; some serious legs that left some large footprints.
Jeffery had some interesting comments about the Bears when approached by reporters at his locker following Wednesday’s practice.
“I love the city of Philadelphia,” said Jeffery. “Chicago was just when I was there for work.”
That’s the money quote, but there was more.
“Honestly I love away games,” he said. “No disrespect to our home crowd at Philly, but I love away games. I love to hear other teams roar at the beginning of a game but they’re quiet at the end of the game. That’s fine by me.”
Asked what his emotions may be returning to Soldier Field or if he expects to get booed or cheered, he said: “No emotions. It’s a football game, they’re in the way of where we’re trying to go. Boos or ahhs doesn’t matter to me. I play for the Eagles. That’s the nature of the business.”
Jeffery wasn’t too enamored with the playing surface of Soldier Field, either.
“The field is terrible,” he said. “Definitely have to wear screw-in cleats. When I was there we always used to tell the (maintenance crew) to change the field, get the field better. Not disrespecting it, but just saying, it’s terrible.”
Jeffery had a couple good seasons with the Bears, topping 1,100 yards in two straight years. His career really took off since joining the Eagles.
He won a Super Bowl for starters, and had a big hand in helping the Eagles win Super Bowl LII in February, but getting them there. In his first postseason appearance last year, he made 12 catches for 219 yards (18.3 yards per catch) and three touchdowns, including a 34-yarder in the Super Bowl that broke a 3-3 tie with the Patriots.
Add his regular season numbers to his postseason figures and Jeffery ended his first year in Philly with 69 receptions for 1,008 yards and 12 TDs.
This year, Jeffery missed the first three games while rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery, yet still caught 65 passes for 843 yards and six scores. Over the last four games, he has 22 catches for 351 yards (15.9 yards per catch) with two touchdowns.
This isn’t his first game against his former team. Last year, the Bears visited Lincoln Financial Field and left 31-3 losers, with Jeffery catching five passes for 52 yards and one touchdowns.
“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” said Jeffery. “We have to keep building and practice hard each and every day. The sky is the limit for us. I can’t wait for this game for sure. We’re playing the Bears, but if we were playing anybody else I still couldn’t wait to play this game. I’m excited to be back in the postseason.”