The subtext to Maclin's soreness is that he missed last season with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament. He said his soreness was in both legs. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said Maclin's soreness was not connected to last season's knee injury, and Maclin said the rest is normal protocol. But the receiver admitted that he treats things differently now.
"I think it's just a little different considering the fact that a year ago I had an ACL injury," Maclin said.
Maclin, 26, did not miss a day all spring and has not been completely sidelined this summer, either. When the team is in pads, he is in pads. So it appears Maclin's extended stay on the sideline was for maintenance and recovery. The receiver promised that he would play in Friday's preseason opener against the Chicago Bears.
It will be Maclin's first game since the 2012 regular-season finale. Last year's injury occurred before the preseason started.
"I'm trying not to let it get to me, but it's going to be special," Maclin said. "I haven't played in two years. I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited."
He's also cautious. Maclin said he did not feel any soreness in his legs until Monday, which is why he held back. He told the coaches and the training staff how he felt and insisted he could have practiced Tuesday if needed. Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell said in the spring that there is a difference between a player's shape when he is rehabilitating and football game shape.
"It's just the normal stress of practice," Shurmur said. "He's taken a lot of reps. He's done an outstanding job. Just like anybody, they deal with the soreness in certain ways. He'll be fine."
Complicating the depth chart was Maclin's having company on the sideline. Riley Cooper (foot), the other top receiver, remains out and in a walking boot. Coach Chip Kelly said Sunday that Cooper would return this week, although the Eagles have only two light practices leading up to Friday's game, and Cooper still has not rid himself of the boot. Jeff Maehl continued to miss practice but no longer wore a boot on his right foot.
As a result, the Eagles tested their depth at wide receiver. Rookie Jordan Matthews ran plays with the first team Tuesday. McCoy went out of his way to praise Matthews - the second time this summer he has contributed to the rookie's hype. Veterans Brad Smith and Arrelious Benn also have received attention, and a group of young receivers is getting more snaps in practice.
"What we're doing with them being out is developing the depth of the team, because the guys that are second and third in line now become first and second," Shurmur said.
The Eagles also tried some three-tight-end formations, with James Casey joining Zach Ertz and Brent Celek in the top unit. Kelly has spoken about the Eagles' ability to play different personnel groupings, and practice has been evidence of that. There can be three tight ends or two running backs on the field at the same time.
But the best personnel groupings remain those that include Maclin. For the first time since the 2012 season, they will be seen in a game on Friday.
"I'm 100 percent sure I'll play," Maclin said.
Cornerback Brandon Boykin has been a standout all camp and brought his "A" game on Tuesday. He intercepted Mark Sanchez and broke up several passes with a karate-chop move he said he has added to his repertoire this year.
Kicker Casey Spear's chances of beating out Alex Henery, however slim they are, took a blow. He missed 3 of 5 field-goal attempts, hooking 46-, 43-, and 52-yard attempts wide left. Henery went 5 for 5.
The Eagles will hold a walk-through practice at the NovaCare Complex at 11:35 a.m. Wednesday. Coach Chip Kelly will meet with reporters beforehand.
- Jeff McLane