PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A torn ACL hasn’t slowed down Jeremy Maclin.
Less than a year since Maclin had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right knee, the Philadelphia wide receiver is ready to go and eager to play in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense.
“In some ways, I feel faster,” Maclin said. “It’s a feeling and you can tell looking at tape.”
The Eagles are counting on Maclin to play the way he did before he got hurt. The team released three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson after he had the best year of his career.
Though they drafted two wideouts in early rounds, Maclin is expected to be the go-to target for Nick Foles.
“He looks great,” Foles said. “I can’t tell the difference at all. He’s coming in and out of breaks, getting down field, looking great. He’s working every day to get better. It’s the same Jeremy and that guy wants to get better every day no matter what.”
Maclin hasn’t missed any practices since offseason workouts began on April 21. The Eagles will finish up their mandatory minicamp Thursday before returning to the field for training camp next month.
“As far as all the routes, I’m doing them all,” Maclin said. “We’ve had plays where I’ve had to stretch out, run out and dig a little bit, and I’ve made those plays. I’ve had to jump for balls. I think the next step is just getting tackled.”
A first-round pick in 2009, Maclin was the Eagles’ top receiver in 2012. He led the team with 69 receptions for 857 yards and seven touchdowns that year. Maclin averaged 64 catches, 863 yards and six TDs in his first four seasons, and is one of eight receivers in NFL history to have at least 55 catches and 750 yards in each of his first four years in the league.
Kelly had high hopes for Maclin last year before he went down in practice on July 27. Maclin knew right away because he suffered the same injury at Missouri four years earlier.
“I was really excited about how he would fit into what we do because of what he can do,” Kelly said. “And then to lose him that early in camp was disappointing. You got a taste of him. But having him out there full speed running out there right now, he’s doing a really good job.”
Maclin’s injury allowed Riley Cooper to emerge as the No. 2 receiver. Cooper had a breakout year, setting career highs in receptions (47), yards receiving (835) and touchdowns (eight). He was rewarded with a five-year contract worth $25 million with about $10 million guaranteed.
Maclin also bypassed free agency and signed a one-year deal with the Eagles, passing up a long-term contract to have a chance to prove he deserves bigger bucks.
His knee hasn’t been an issue so far.
“I’ve been getting better each and every day, and I’m really happy with my progress,” Maclin said.
Even without Maclin, the Eagles had an outstanding offense. They set team records for points (442), total net yards (6,676), touchdowns (53), and gross yards passing (4,406) en route to a 10-6 finish and the NFC East title.
Maclin essentially replaces Jackson, but rookies Jordan Matthews (second-round pick) and Josh Huff (third-round pick) will provide more depth at the position.
“I think (Huff) and Jordan have hit it off and really play off each other right now so it’s two good young guys to go together,” Kelly said.
Huff played for Kelly at Oregon so he has more familiarity with the offense.
“It’s still a learning curve for him,” Kelly said. “The one thing that he has that I don’t have the benefit of with Jordan is I understand where Josh came from. So I know the language that he spoke the last couple of years. So I can help him. There’s some similarities but I understand where the terminology gap is going to be for him.”
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