Eagles Notebook: Eagles' Maclin nearly back to old self

MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Eagles' Jeremy Maclin looks ready to return as he addresses media yesterday.
MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Eagles' Jeremy Maclin looks ready to return as he addresses media yesterday.
Posted: June 19, 2014

THERE'S A LOT riding on Jeremy Maclin's comeback from last July's torn right ACL. Eagles coach Chip Kelly has talked about how eager he is to see Maclin in his offense. Maclin is the main reason the Birds were comfortable parting with DeSean Jackson.

Maclin might turn out to be the most significant addition to the 2014 Eagles, but the team's 2009 first-round pick still has some hurdles to cross. Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell acknowledged this when he was asked Monday how Maclin was doing.

"There are certain times you see him and everything looks exactly the way I remember it [before the injury]," Bicknell said. "There are times where he'll come out of a break and it's not being hurt. It's just, you [need to] get your legs underneath you. You have all those different things that are going through an athlete's mind. I'm sure there's some of that that he's going through. But there's a good percentage of the time that he looks exactly the way he looked a year ago before he got hurt."

Kelly and Maclin said yesterday that Maclin can do everything on the field now; quarterback Nick Foles even offered that to him, Maclin looks better than he looked before he got hurt. But he did miss an entire season.

"I don't think it has anything to do with the knee. I think it's me having heavy legs [during a specific practice] or just the fact that I didn't do anything last year. I don't think it's me being [tentative]," Maclin said, when asked about Bicknell's words.

Maclin said there is no doubt in his mind that his right knee, also repaired early in his college career at Missouri, is once again sound.

"I think the next step is actually getting tackled . . . by that time, I'll be over 12 months [from the injury]," he said.

"In some ways, I feel faster" than before the ACL tear, suffered on the first day of full squad workouts last year, Maclin said. "As far as all the routes, I'm doing 'em all," planting hard and twisting when needed, Maclin said.

There was a three-game stretch near the end of the 2012 season when, with Foles starting for an injured Michael Vick, he hooked up with Maclin for 21 catches, good for 293 yards and two TDs. That was in Andy Reid's offense, but Maclin said he feels he and Foles are definitely on the same page, and have good chemistry.

"Gut feeling, I think he's better," than before, Foles said. "When you go through injuries . . . you have to go through a lot. The way he handled everything last year, he did a great job of it, to where now he's got even more strength, whether it's mindset, whatever, to where he can push it even harder."

No return jobs won in minicamp

There are several possibilities for punt and kickoff returns this year. Chip Kelly said minicamp is a place to get a look at a lot of returners, not to pick or rank them yet.

"I don't know," Kelly said, when asked if he feels he has adequate options there. "I think it's a difficult time in a lot of these evaluations in the spring, because there's no contact, you really can't get in front of people and do things. So we're just rolling guys through there, really working on the fundamentals of how to field the kick, how to catch a kickoff or punt and how to get it up the field a little bit.

"Darren [Sproles] is the one proven commodity that has had a lot of success in the league doing it. But I'm anxious to take a look at two of the young kids. Josh Huff returned kickoffs in college [for Oregon] and Jordan Matthews returned punts in college [for Vanderbilt]."


There's a lot of talk about how well corner Nolan Carroll is doing in these short-pants, noncontact workouts. The former Dolphins starter certainly looks athletic . . . Chip Kelly, asked about 6-9 defensive end Alejandro Villanueva, the Army combat vet who is returning to football after 4 years away from the game, called Villanueva "a guy that you can really keep an eye on just because he's got such an upside."
On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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