Philadelphia Eagles News

Fanfare Side Issue In Maclin Rise To Top

In other circles, with other NFL teams, Jeremy Maclin's season would be headline stuff. He has 64 receptions, 890 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is a devastating blocker. He is, in the words of tight end Brent Celek, an "angry" player on the field, which belies his laid-back countenance off the field. Maclin, in his second season in the bigs, is a complete wide receiver.

That was the goal.

"I'm a year older and I think it shows on the field, and even off the field," said Maclin, the team's first-round draft pick in 2009. "I've just become a more complete receiver. That was my goal -- to be the best I can be, to be complete. I have a long way to go, but I definitely feel the difference from last year. We have a young team. We have a lot of guys stepping up. I feel like guys look to me to be a leader and that is what is natural with me. I'm very comfortable here. I feel great about our team, about the improvement we are making."

Maclin doesn't garner the face time that fellow receiver DeSean Jackson gets. He isn't the flamboyant type. Maclin is the anti-diva, and the truth is that he doesn't seem to mind at all that a half-dozen reporters gather around Jackson's locker every day at the NovaCare Complex, or that Jackson is the Pro Bowl showstopper.

There is absolutely no ego battle between these two great receivers, and the truth is that I wonder if Eagles fans are pinching themselves every week seeing Maclin and Jackson, Jackson and Maclin, lining up together. It seems surreal, doesn't it?, after so many seasons of questions about the quality of the receiver combination here.

There are no questions now. Both are No. 1-type receivers and both have different styles. Both are explosive, both are tough, both are virtually unguardable in one-on-one situations.

Jackson is more of the vertical threat as this offense has evolved, while Maclin has been more of the intermediate-route receiver. That is to take nothing away from Maclin, who averages 13.9 yards per reception. With 110 yards in two games, Maclin will join Jackson in the 1,000-yard club this season, and when that happens -- is there any doubt? -- the two will become the first pair of receivers with 1,000-plus yards in a single season in franchise history.

Something special.

"When you get put into a situation like we're in, where everybody is basically young, you have to approach the game and improve everything about what you are doing," said Maclin. "When you're a rookie, you go through the Combine, the draft and then it hits you all of a sudden with the camps and then the season. I was ready for my second season. I wanted to push myself in the off-season and I did that. I got stronger, I put on about four pounds and I see the benefits. I feel fresh.

"From a football standpoint, I wanted to get into a position where I improved every day. Whatever happens, I want to improve every day and I take that approach. So if I can learn something new each day, I know I'm going to be a better player."

Maclin has been terrific, hasn't he? He scored twice against the Giants, once on a drag route on which he started on the left side of the formation and got lost in traffic for a second and then came across the field on a shallow cross uncovered to catch Michael Vick's pass for an easy touchdown. The second score, the one that tied the game 31-31, was all about Maclin making a catch and then shrugging off Terrell Thomas, the Giants cornerback, and scoring easily.

Those were the plays you saw. Hopefully you recognized Maclin's big block that cleared the way for Celek on his touchdown catch and run, or the way Maclin mixed it up all day with a very physical group of Giants defensive backs.

That physical style of play is what has opened the most eyes about Maclin. He displayed the speed and the game-breaking skills in Missouri's wide-open spread offense. Maclin was a big-play machine there, so the thinking was that if the Eagles could find a way to get him in space, he would be devastating.

But Maclin is more than a "go" route kind of player. He runs terrific routes. He catches and runs through traffic. He does the dirty work. Very early on, Maclin established a rapport with quarterback Michael Vick. Those 10 touchdowns, four away from tying the franchise record, speak volumes.

"It's all about repetition," said Maclin. "We have worked hard together. We trust each other. Michael knows I'm going to be there for him."

As for the "competition" with Jackson, hey, it's all good. They are both great players. They are both doing their part to help the Eagles win. Does anything else matter?

"I just want to win. We're 10-4. We have a big game on Sunday night. We think we can accomplish some things this year, so that's all I can think about," said Maclin. "I am here to do my job and help this team win. That is the only focus."

It is glorious, really. Maclin is another example of a locker room that has put the team first. When you are 10-4 in a galaxy of stars, the team approach is paying off. And Maclin, a front-page story in just about every other city, is the prime example of what is right with this team.

"This is a fun team and a great time for all of us," he said. "We just want to win, one week to the next week."

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