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Maclin On Track As Camp Nears

Posted Jul 15, 2014

It is Tuesday, and the start of Training Camp nears. Most NFL players are getting in their last gasps of vacation before starting the journey that is the 2014 season. Not so for Jeremy Maclin ...

It is Tuesday, and the start of Training Camp nears. Most NFL players are getting in their last gasps of vacation before starting the journey that is the 2014 season. Not so for Jeremy Maclin.

The NovaCare Complex has been Maclin's home away from home since he was a first-round draft pick by the Eagles in 2009, and never has it been more of a daily landing spot for Maclin from the time last July when Maclin went down in a Training Camp practice in a non-contact drill and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

Just like that, season over. Before it even began. Maclin left the NovaCare Complex on crutches that day, facing an uncertain future.

We're almost a full 12 months removed from that moment, and Maclin walks down the hallway of the NovaCare Complex fully confident in what is ahead of him. He's been tuned into his rehabilitation program since the injury. When the players hit the field for the spring Organized Team Activities, Maclin was there every day, taking every rep at wide receiver.

Maclin has no doubts that he is back, all the way back.

"I feel great and there is no holding back," Maclin said. "It's nothing I even think about. I've done my work and I'm continuing to work, so for me it's about going out and doing my job and being detailed and helping this team win games."

There seems to be no doubt, then. Maclin has tested his knee. He's pushed it beyond the limit. He said after the spring training sessions that he was right on track and he said recently to reporters that he felt, perhaps, "faster" than he played before the injury. If that's the case, the Eagles have themselves a complete receiver who is able to stretch defenses, who is able to turn a short catch into a long gain, and who is a plus player blocking for the running game.

"Jeremy is going to be a big part of what we do. He's jumped right in there and picked up the offense," said wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell. "Jeremy has worked extremely hard to get back on the field and that's just the way he is. The guy loves the game. It shows in his recovery."

Maclin has to go through the Training Camp routine and then the preseason push and then, of course, the game changes -- literally -- when the regular season begins. The curiosity to see how Maclin projects into the offense is natural. Without Maclin a year ago, the Eagles established franchise records for points scored and yards gained in a single season, and they proved to be the most explosive team (most plus-20-yard plays) in the league.

The team has reconfigured its wide receiver corps. Released in the offseason were Jason Avant and then DeSean Jackson. Maclin stayed put with a one-year contract, rather than test free agency. Riley Cooper signed on with a multi-year contract prior to free agency. Added in the draft were Jordan Matthews (second round) and Josh Huff (third round). The Eagles traded for the versatile Darren Sproles, a running back who has made a career impact catching the football, too.

It's a fascinating mix, with the health and progress of Maclin at the top of the "watch" list. The Eagles benefit if Maclin is all the way back. With 258 receptions (first in team history), 3,453 yards (third) and 26 touchdowns (fifth) in his first four seasons as an Eagle, Maclin was as productive as any pass catcher in those opening years in Philadelphia. The injury robbed him of his fifth season, but Maclin expects to step in and pick up where he left off -- and then some.

"I felt comfortable in the offense before the injury and it hasn't been a problem picking it back up," he says. "That's not an issue at all. I'm looking forward to Training Camp and getting into the season. I missed playing so much, being around the guys.

"The big thing is that I followed my rehab program and worked hard and got a lot of help, so to be out here is no surprise. I'm excited. I can't wait to get it going."

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