Maclin ready for his chance in Chip Kelly's offense

Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (18), who missed last season with a torn knee ligament, said his practice sessions this week have been his best yet.       DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (18), who missed last season with a torn knee ligament, said his practice sessions this week have been his best yet.       DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Posted: September 05, 2014

The Eagles' first injury report of the season came out Wednesday, and Jeremy Maclin's name was nowhere to be found.

Maclin's summer has been full of milestones leading up to the season opener Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He practiced on the first day of training camp, July 26. A day later, it was exactly one year since he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament. On Aug. 8, he started the first preseason game. On Aug. 21, he stood up in practice after collapsing the same way he did when he hurt his right knee.

Maclin said this week's practices have been his best yet. There is no question about his status when the Eagles show off their reconfigured receiving corps Sunday.

"Just being off the treatment list, everything going in the right direction, it's all behind me now," Maclin said. "Now, it's just going out there and playing football."

Maclin is unconcerned about rust because of the 62 snaps he took during the preseason, although he missed the second preseason game because of a hamstring injury. He said the knee healed about nine to 10 months after the surgery.

He was not the pre-injury Maclin during the preseason, which was in part by design. Maclin proved that he could reach the opener in good health. He insists he can do more than he showed in the preseason.

"There's a lot more, especially as far as plays we can do," Maclin said. "We didn't throw the ball down the field at all during the preseason. So there's a lot more. You don't show your whole hand during the preseason."

The only time Maclin ran deep was his first route in the preseason opener. He expects to stretch the field more this season than he did in his first four.

Sunday will mark the first time Maclin enters a season without DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant. The team's two other top receivers will be Riley Cooper and Jordan Matthews.

"I think the pieces fit really well," Maclin said, noting the presence of tight end Zach Ertz, running back LeSean McCoy, and running back Darren Sproles in the passing game.

"I don't think we're going to miss a beat."

Matthews' maturation will be critical. The rookie was the Eagles' second-round pick and was the seventh receiver selected in the draft. The Eagles traded up in the second round to acquire Matthews with the No. 42 overall pick after Marqise Lee went No. 39 to Jacksonville.

The Jaguars also liked Matthews, who played for Jacksonville's staff at the Senior Bowl.

"One thing that impressed us . . . was that he might catch a 5-yard stop and he would run the extra 45 yards to the end zone," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "It just felt like he wanted to be great and he wanted to do the little things to become great."

Jacksonville has high hopes for Lee, whom the Eagles graded "very, very high," according to coach Chip Kelly. The Eagles passed on Lee in the first round and picked too late to take him in the second. Lee, who went to Southern Cal, totaled 20 catches for 344 yards and three touchdowns in two games against Oregon when Kelly was the Ducks' coach.

"Hopefully, we can shut him down a little bit better in the NFL than I did in college," Kelly said.

Matthews was unhappy that he was not selected in the first round, but he said he has no bitterness toward Lee. Both the Eagles and Jaguars needed receivers. Jacksonville selected Lee and former Penn State receiver Allen Robinson on the second day, while the Eagles took Matthews and Josh Huff.

Huff is unlikely to play Sunday, but Matthews will have his chance to join Maclin in the opener for the first true showing of how they will look in Kelly's offense.

"The Eagles picked me, so instead of worrying about anything that's going on besides them, I'm just going to make the most of this opportunity that I have here," Matthews said. "Every time when I come into the facility . . . I see everybody who actually made the decision to come and get me, and I want to make sure I put out the best product on the field for them."


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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