Carson Wentz isn't cleared for contact and apparently won't start Thursday's season opener.

Alshon Jeffery didn't practice Sunday, hasn't practiced with the team all preseason, and seems extremely unlikely to suit up.

Jay Ajayi said he plans to return to full practice on Monday, after a two-week absence caused by a foot injury.

There is a long list of Eagles who either were held out of the preseason, or missed significant time. The most likely top three wide receivers for the opener — Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins — came out of the four preseason games with a total of one catch, that by Wallace, for 3 yards.

So, after all the banner-hanging and related Super Bowl LII hoopla Thursday evening, will the Eagles really be ready to kick off the 2018 NFL season, against an Atlanta team considered a top NFC contender?

"We gonna see, ain't we?" right tackle Lane Johnson said, with a forced laugh. "We had Nelson [Agholor] out there today. Alshon was out there running around [on his own]. We're getting some guys that haven't been in for a while, getting the reps. Doing the best we can with what we have. We kind of went this way last year with injuries. It's tough to deal with, you wish you could have everybody, but we'll make it do."

Ajayi said he thinks it will take a bit of time for him to get up to speed, "being truthful and realistic." He added that "not practicing, that's not ideal. I just gotta get myself ready to play in a game, continue to get myself back to where I need to be."

Eagles coach Doug Pederson wasn't conceding any ground on this topic, however. In fact, in a bristly news conference, Pederson seemed to be circling the wagons, and ready to fire on anyone who ventured near them. Asked who will start at quarterback against Atlanta, Pederson said: "I appreciate y'all putting words in my mouth this week. Therefore, I'm not going to discuss it."

Apparently, Pederson was angry over the weekend NFL Network report that said the team had decided to start Nick Foles in the opener, and to give Wentz's repaired left knee more recovery time. But Wentz questions weren't the only ones that got prickly answers.

After accusing the press of putting words in his mouth, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson announced Sunday September 2, 2018, he will no longer discuss who will start the first game of the season against the Falcons on Thurrsday night.
After accusing the press of putting words in his mouth, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson announced Sunday September 2, 2018, he will no longer discuss who will start the first game of the season against the Falcons on Thurrsday night.

Asked about not having everyone on the field together for preseason games, Pederson referenced players such as 36-year-old left tackle Jason Peters and 35-year-old running back/returner Darren Sproles, who have practiced extensively but were held out of games. Peters last played in an NFL game on Oct. 23, Sproles on Sept. 24.

"Why? Why do they need to be in the game? I've answered this question all of training camp," Pederson said. "I've held Jason Peters. He's ready to go. I've held Darren Sproles. He's ready to go. They've practiced. They've been in our practices. Practices are a lot tougher sometimes than games are. We've seen everything we need to see."

Asked if he is worried about rust, Pederson said "No."

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"I feel really good about where we're at as a football team. I really do," Pederson said. "I'm excited about this opportunity Thursday night."

Tight end Zach Ertz said the first-team offense practiced against the first-team defense on Sunday, perhaps to get a competitive vibe going.

Defensive end Brandon Graham didn't play in the preseason as he rehabbed from ankle surgery.

"I'm still a little rusty. I'm still gonna have some fun," Graham said.

"You just try not to overdo it in the first one, as far as, you know, your emotions are going to be high … [Normally] you can be super-hyped before the game and still have energy," Graham said. "Right now, I don't want to chance it, because sometimes you can kind of [get tired early], if you overdo your energy before the game, you're out there talkin', and that stuff I do."

Ajayi was asked if the offense can come out Thursday night and pick up where it left off, scoring 79 points in the last two playoff games.

"I think it's not about thinking about last year. Right now, it's about the team we have now," Ajayi said. "New offensive guys that are in the mix now, some guys aren't playing, some guys are. It's just about us coming together as this new team and just executing out there … This isn't the first time the Eagles have dealt with injuries. We had injuries last year and carried the flag and people stepped up and we won the Super Bowl. Obviously, it's a whole new year, but the mind-set's the same."

Running back Corey Clement was among those who was only healthy for the preseason opener.

"I hate when I miss time; I feel just useless," Clement said.

He is back at practice now and expects to play against Atlanta.

"Everybody is strong-minded here," Clement said, when asked about the danger of a slow start.

But he agreed that, after the short offseason for the Super Bowl winners, "it seems like this training camp just flew by."