Eagles' Maclin downplays slight hamstring injury

Posted: August 15, 2014

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Yes, Jeremy Maclin confirmed, he yelled in frustration after his left hamstring "kind of grabbed on me" early on in the second of 3 days of joint practices between the Eagles and the Patriots.

Maclin had just broken free to haul in a long Nick Foles touchdown pass, through pelting rain. Maclin's practices here were shaping up as his sharpest of training camp, as he works his way back from last year's ACL tear.

In the hamstring pull that once more took Maclin out of practice, and in coach Chip Kelly's words about his presumed No. 1 receiver before the teams took the field, there was a common thread: Maclin isn't quite where he needs to be just yet. Maybe it isn't a big deal. The Sept. 7 season opener is still more than 3 weeks away. But we are reminded, particularly at skill positions, that football players don't take a year off with a serious injury and immediately return to top form.

"I'm just going to treat it and go from there," said Maclin, who added that he hopes to play when the Pats host the Eagles in a preseason game tomorrow night. "It shouldn't be a big deal . . . It grabbed on me, I knew I probably wasn't going to practice for the rest of the day, so I was just a little upset. I wanted to go out there and compete, and I knew that once it happened, I was going to shut it down for the rest of the day. That's the only reason" he was upset.

Reporters watching wondered whether Maclin had suffered some sort of setback with his right knee, but that seemed unlikely as he stood on the sideline for the rest of practice, hands tucked into one of those hand warmers players wear in cold or wet weather.

"I feel really good now," he said, when asked about his knee. "I'm excited about going forward."

Before practice, Kelly was asked about Maclin's strong Tuesday work against Pats cornerback Darrelle Revis.

"I thought Mac did a nice job yesterday. It's just a matter with Mac of just getting more comfortable, getting out there," Kelly said. "You can tell he's running around and doing those things, but you're not instantly, 'Hey, I got it back to where I was before.' It's still getting a little bit more familiar with it, more comfortable with what we're doing. Even though he was in the building every day [last year], he was rehabbing, so he wasn't on the field or working with us from a scheme standpoint. He may have confidence in his leg, but he's still trying to make sure he acclimates everything he's trying to do from an offensive standpoint . . . Every day, I think he's going to get a little bit better and better. I thought he had a good day yesterday."

Maclin caught one pass for 15 yards in the preseason opener Friday at Chicago. With Maclin out and Riley Cooper (foot) still limited, there's way more first-team work for guys such as Ifeanyi Momah and Jeff Maehl than you'd think there'd be in sessions such as these. Foles at times has struggled to find open receivers.

Obviously, with DeSean Jackson in Washington now, the Eagles need both Maclin and Cooper to be healthy and productive.

Camp sights

* Fourth-round rookie corner Jaylen Watkins sat out practice with what he said was a minor hamstring problem.

* Tight end Zach Ertz has looked really good against the Pats. Ertz said that while New England runs a similar defensive scheme to the one he practices against every day in Philadelphia, the Pats don't know the Eagles' offense as well.

"It's good to play an 'honest' defense" that isn't jumping routes, Ertz said. "Very good team, very well-coached. It's fun to go against them."

* Officials are working these practices, and flags are flying, as part of the crackdown on contact between defenders and receivers. Eagles corner Brandon Boykin acknowledged the crackdown is more of a problem for a physical, man-to-man-oriented defense such as the Eagles' than it would be for teams that play more zone.

"We'll adjust and make the changes and just play football," Boykin said. "Anytime they make rule changes, people adjust, so that's kind of the process we're going through right now. I don't have any doubt in my mind that we'll adjust and still be able to make plays."

* Patrick Chung collided with a receiver as the pass from Foles arrived, watched it squirt into the air, tracked it and intercepted. Eagles coaches watching the Patriots safety did an admirable job of refraining from yelling, "Where was that a year ago?"

* The Patriots practiced last week against Washington, in Richmond, Va. Pats quarterback Tom Brady said yesterday he enjoys practicing against other teams in part because he doesn't play that much in preseason games, at 37, and this gives him a chance to sharpen his skills, particularly situational play. "When the games actually start, you feel like you're a little bit ahead," he said.

* The teams will hold a joint walkthrough today, and Kelly is expected to tell us how much he envisions his starters playing tomorrow night.

On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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