Eagles wide receiver Maehl ready to tackle special-teams duties

ASSOCIATED PRESS Eagles' Jeff Maehl tries to slip out of the grasp of Jets' Antonio Allen in preseason game.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Eagles' Jeff Maehl tries to slip out of the grasp of Jets' Antonio Allen in preseason game.
Posted: September 05, 2013

THE EAGLES' wide receivers are not perceived as the strength of the team, especially since Jeremy Maclin went down with a season-ending knee injury. But Jeff Maehl, the one Eagles wideout who has played in a Chip Kelly offense previously, says he thinks they do some important things well.

"It's a hard-nosed group. Obviously, we've got DeSean [Jackson], who can take the top off of man coverage, make a big play at any time. After that, we're not a bunch of blazers, but we're guys who can make plays, and we're going to be physical on the perimeter, blocking, which is really important in this offense," said Maehl, who starred for Kelly at Oregon, then spent the last two seasons on the fringes of the Texans' roster, playing in three games.

Maehl said blocking from the wideouts will be more important than ever here.

"We run the ball so effectively, all the bubble screens we can run, and stuff like that, you gotta be able to be physical out there, keep your guy locked down so you can make big plays," he said.

Riley Cooper and Jason Avant are good blockers. Jackson and Damaris Johnson are size-challenged in that regard (and in other regards). Maehl, 6-feet, 184, considers himself a physical player. Oregon recruited him out of Paradise, Calif., as a safety.

Maehl said he thinks that background will help him on special teams, which might be his most important contribution, if he is active on game day.

"A No. 5 receiver in this league, you have to contribute on special teams. I got recruited to Oregon as a safety, played my first 10 games there as a safety, did a lot of special-teams work there, had more tackles that year than I had catches," he said. "It's something I'm familiar with."

Cutdown time also was something Maehl was familiar with, having been shunted onto the practice squad 2 years in a row in Houston. He arrived late here, in an Aug. 12 trade for offensive lineman Nate Menkin, then didn't really get to show what he could do until the final preseason game. Maehl was just about the only player in the locker room leading up to that game at the Jets who wasn't saying it was just another game; he said it was the most important game of his life, and then he went out and played like it, catching eight passes (on nine targets) for 61 yards.

"No question," Maehl said, when asked if he thought the Jets game helped him make the team. "I look back at my experience in Houston, learning how important that fourth preseason is for the last couple guys that are going to be added to that 53-man roster. Definitely going in thinking it was my biggest game, and it potentially could have been one of my last games . . . I just wanted to leave it all out on the field."

Some fans and reporters were surprised to see Maehl overtake wideouts Russell Shepard (claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay) and Greg Salas (signed to the practice squad), perhaps because Shepard and Salas had been here all spring and summer and were much more familiar. But Kelly knew Maehl better than he knew Shepard or Salas, even after all that spring and summer work. Maehl tied the Oregon record with 24 career touchdowns, and caught 77 passes for 1,076 yards in 2010 as a senior.

"He's such a great mind, footballwise. It's so fun to be around him, because he's such a smart guy," Maehl said of Kelly. "He always seems to put us in a situation where we can win. I can't say he's changed that much."

Maehl doesn't have a seasonlong guarantee or anything, but gaining a real roster spot at the start of a season finally made him feel justified in having his wife, Britnee, break camp in Houston and bring their belongings here to find a place to live, other than the training camp hotel. They married June 29. Maehl said he likes the idea of making their start together in Philadelphia.

"It's something I've never gone through, something she's never gone through," Maehl said. "I'm just excited to see her and get into a new spot out here . . . It's definitely going to feel good when we get all settled down."

Radio RosemanĀ 

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman debuted his 94-WIP weekly radio show yesterday evening. Among the subjects Roseman was asked about was the decision to cut linebacker Emmanuel Acho to add linebacker Najee Goode. Acho seemed to have a much better preseason than Casey Matthews, who was retained.

"We were targeting a situational cover linebacker, a guy with speed, a guy who possibly can grow into a nickel linebacker and play special teams," Roseman said. "At the same time, we felt Jake Knott had done a great job of being that first-down, second-down, instinctive player more in the mold of DeMeco [Ryans] and [we were] looking for a guy more in the mold to back up Mychal Kendricks, that kind of skill set.

"Jake was ahead of Acho, and getting the opportunity to get a guy who can run really well like Goode, we just thought that was a great opportunity for us. And it was no slight on Acho, he did a great job in the preseason. We were just looking for something as we built this team, and we thought maybe we had an opportunity to get it when Goode became available."


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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