Maehl's out to prove he belongs with Eagles

Receiver Jeff Maehl led the Eagles with eight catches for 61 yards in the preseason finale.
Receiver Jeff Maehl led the Eagles with eight catches for 61 yards in the preseason finale. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff)
Posted: September 04, 2013

Jeff Maehl survived the Eagles' roster cut to 53 on Saturday, an accomplishment for any player who spends the preseason on the bubble. But now there's unique pressure on Maehl to demonstrate that he earned the spot and did not just get it because of his connection to Chip Kelly.

Maehl was a standout wide receiver for Kelly at Oregon and was the only player in Kelly's four years as head coach to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season. The Eagles acquired Maehl from the Houston Texans on Aug. 12. He led the Eagles with eight catches for 61 yards in the final preseason game.

"I came into it not expecting Chip to give me anything; I had to come here and earn it," Maehl said. "I felt like throughout camp that I showed some really good signs that I was doing things well, and then obviously playing well in the last preseason game really helped me, too."

Maehl beat Russell Shepard, who was claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, and Greg Salas, who was signed to the Eagles' practice squad. Shepard was an undrafted rookie and Salas is already on his third NFL team, so the Eagles didn't cut a standout player to keep Maehl around. But Maehl did not record a catch before the final preseason game, and had less time in camp than the other receivers.

Because of his background with Kelly, Maehl said he was not at a disadvantage in learning the offense. The team touts his versatility, and Maehl made a big statement to the coaching staff when he ably played in the slot last week.

Maehl already has experience as an outside receiver, and he said playing on the left side is the same as playing on the right in Kelly's offense. So once he demonstrated that can he play the slot, he was able to play every receiving spot in the offense. He already knew many of the concepts, and the playbook was not an issue.

"Being familiar with some of the coaches and obviously Chip and what he does, what he wants out of a receiver, definitely is an advantage for me," Maehl said.

The Eagles also like Maehl's ability to play special teams. He played on all on four units in the final preseason game. He's most effective in kickoff coverage. His weakness is at gunner because of his relative lack of speed, but he thinks he can play that role if needed because he is physical.

As the No. 5 wide receiver and one of the final players on the roster, Maehl knows his spot is not secure. There can always be roster turnover, and players like Maehl are most vulnerable. His priority is earning the respect of his teammates and showing that he's not just in Philadelphia because of what he did for Kelly at Oregon.

"I knew I was going to come in here and have to earn it," Maehl said, "because that's what you have to do at this level."

Eagles release Acho

The Eagles claimed linebacker Najee Goode off waivers from the Buccaneers and released linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

The move came as a slight surprise because Acho was a preseason standout, registering 11 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble in the final preseason game. The team kept Casey Matthews and Jake Knott ahead of Acho.

Goode, 6-foot and 244 pounds, was a fifth-round pick by the Bucs last season out of West Virginia. He played in three games but did not record a tackle. Goode returned an interception for a touchdown in Tampa Bay's preseason finale.

Goode's father, John, played for the Eagles in 1985.

The Eagles also signed safety Trenton Robinson to the practice squad. Robinson was a 2012 sixth-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers.


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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