Four days ago, the biggest question on everyone's mind at Training Camp was who the starting quarterback will be. The topic found its way into almost every conversation around the NovaCare Complex. But now there is a bigger question - who is going to replace Jeremy Maclin. Fellow wide receiver Jason Avant says that no one single person will fill Maclin's void.
"You never know how the game goes," Avant said. "Usually when you have DeSean (Jackson) and (Jeremy) Maclin out there, you can play outside-in, and that's the way we've done it for years. Without him, maybe you go inside-out or run it more or whatever. That's going to be up to Coach (Chip) Kelly, and whatever is done with that, hopefully we can rebound and make a great season out of this."
Avant has been around the game of football long enough to know that sometimes players get injured, and as terrible as it may be, there isn't much that can be done to make the situation better.
"It's just so unfortunate," Avant said. "I talked to him just to encourage him. It's one of those things that you can't do anything about. We ask the question 'why' a lot of times in life and most of the time we can get that answer, but who can question God about those types of things? Hopefully, he'll just get stronger, become a stronger person, a better person and rely on what the will of the Lord is for his life and for this season and be an encouragement to his teammates. It's definitely going to be a hard deal trying to replace those types of things, but we're going to find a way to make do with what we have and push some guys in some positions to help our team win."
While Maclin's injury represents a huge loss for the entire team, it also greatly affects Avant individually. Avant has made his living by working in the slot with the two outside receivers helping draw defenders away from him.
"He and DeSean take the safeties away (from me)," Avant said. "It still leaves me with about three defenders, but he definitely makes my job a lot easier. He made DeSean's job easier. It's hard to roll away from him. We'll make do. It's not going to be Jeremy Maclin, but hopefully some guys can step up."
Avant was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft. Throughout the entirety of his stay in Philadelphia he has worked primarily inside of the formation. When asked if he would practice in Maclin's outside receiver position, he responded by saying that things aren't that simple.
"It's not about just putting a guy in a position and trying to make him that person," Avant said. "It's just, 'what do you do as an offense' and 'what do you do as a player' or 'what personnel does the team put you in or do you run it a little bit more' - all of those types of things. There's different ways around it. It's not going to be one player that's going to replace him. It's going to be a total team effort in order to replace a guy like that."
The 30-year-old Avant is still adjusting to the increased pace of Kelly's practices, but the additional rest has made that transition a smooth one.
"They're just different," Avant said of the practices. "(They have) a little bit of a quicker tempo, but with the rest that we get, we're still mentally aware. It's just different. You've got to allow your body to adjust, but after that, it's pretty much the same."
Aside from the tempo, there has been another noticeable difference in this year's Training Camp as opposed to those of years past. While the pads have gone on, there will be tackling to the ground. Avant says that it doesn't really make a difference and that he'll back his new head coach no matter what he decides.
"It doesn't matter to me, whether you're hitting or whether you're not," Avant says. "You're playing football and there's going to be thudding and those type of things. Football is football. If (Coach Kelly) makes the decision to go hit, I'm for it. If he doesn't, I'm for it."
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