Eagles receivers try to keep the peace

Jeremy Maclin (left) and DeSean Jackson had an animated exchange. Maclin said they were "still good;" Jackson declined comment. Stress has risen with only one ball to go around.
Jeremy Maclin (left) and DeSean Jackson had an animated exchange. Maclin said they were "still good;" Jackson declined comment. Stress has risen with only one ball to go around.
Posted: August 11, 2010

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Like coworkers, family members and world nations, NFL teammates quarrel all the time and still manage to peacefully coexist.

But what happens when those teammates are starting receivers nearing the prime of their careers playing for an offense with multiple weapons in a league known for its diva-esque wideouts?

Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson had an argument toward the end of Tuesday morning's practice that carried over into an animated exchange as they walked off the practice field.

"It's training camp. There's no bad vibe between us two," Maclin said. "We talked something out, and that's all it was. I don't hate him. He doesn't hate me. We're still good. We're still friends. There was a little mix-up, and it's all good now."

Jackson, who has not granted extended interviews since his arrival at camp two weeks ago, declined to comment. Maclin would not divulge what led to the spat, but it occurred after a seven-on-seven drill.

When practice ended, the two receivers walked the length of one field with Maclin often gesturing with his hands and Jackson listening. As they got closer to a gaggle of reporters, Maclin could be heard saying, "We're still cool." They then proceeded to the autograph line, where each signed for a number of fans.

"It was nothing major," Maclin said. "Like I said, it was over and done with."

Maclin and Jackson stood near each other during the afternoon practice without incident, but the argument brings into question the relationship that exists between two hard-working, ambitious receivers.

There are only so many passes to go around - even in the Eagles' pass-heavy offense - when you factor in the starting wide receivers, a sure-handed third receiver in Jason Avant, a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end in Brent Celek, and pass-catching running backs led by LeSean McCoy.

Eagles coach Andy Reid, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, and quarterback Kevin Kolb will be charged with keeping all those egos content.

"I think everybody wants to be a star and wants to have the ball in their hands," Kolb said. "But we just have to keep pressing the fact, 'Look, we're a good offense. Everybody's going to get their shot. Everybody's going to get their plays.' "

Jackson, in just two seasons, has arguably become the league's most dangerous big-play threat. Maclin, the Eagles' top pick last year, is an emerging talent after a solid rookie season. One of the two will likely have to see fewer opportunities.

"I won't complain," Maclin said. "I don't think anybody on the team will complain, especially if we're winning games. . . . It wasn't a challenge last year."

Last season, Maclin and Jackson started together in 13 games, including the first-round playoff loss to Dallas. In those 13 games, the pass distribution was spread out almost evenly among the four top receiving targets.

Celek caught 59 passes for a 22 percent share. Maclin was next with 57 catches (21 percent), followed by Jackson (53 receptions and 20 percent). After that came the combination of tailbacks McCoy and Brian Westbrook (50 and 19 percent), Avant (29 and 11 percent), and the rest (21 and 8 percent).

However, in the final two games of the season – both losses to Dallas – Jackson was blanketed by the Cowboys and held to just five catches for 50 yards. Maclin, meanwhile, led the Eagles with 11 receptions for 204 yards.

If defenses employ the same tactics against Jackson this season, it could open up space for Maclin. Of course, Maclin, who went about adding muscle to his body in the off-season, could draw his own double teams and further cloud the issue of who is the No. 1 receiver.

"You can call it what you want to call it," Maclin said. "I think there's enough balls to go around the table. If you want to call me No. 2, call me No. 2. If you want to say I'm No. 1, call me No. 1."

Mornhinweg was able to juggle multiple offensive options as the coordinator in San Francisco in the late 1990s.

"It's cyclical sometimes," Mornhinweg said. "Some guys will have numbers one game and not the next."

Maclin was asked about the quarrel after the morning practice, and as he spoke, Jackson emerged from the locker room. The two receivers then walked separately to their cars - Jackson's black Porsche and Maclin's white Range Rover - and exited the parking lot one after the other.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Jeff_McLane.

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