While LeSean McCoy has received the accolades this week, and rightfully so, for his gritty performance in San Francisco last Sunday night, he's not the only second-year player to show improvement from his rookie season. Jeremy Maclin was the Eagles' first-round pick in the 2009 Draft, and he has certainly lived up to expectations.
In his first season, Maclin finished among the top NFL rookie receivers in receptions (56), yards (773) and touchdowns (4). He proved to be a big-play threat down the field, and had the hands and toughness to work his way over the middle. Maclin knew that in order to take the next step in his career, he would have to put the work in during the offseason.
"I think that's how careers get cut short, or never live up to their full potential, because they don't take care of their bodies and they don't put in the work in the offseason," Maclin said. "That's definitely something I wanted to focus on."
It appears that Maclin's hard work is paying off.
Through five games this season, Maclin's stock is on the rise. He is second on the team in receptions and yards, and leads the Eagles in receiving touchdowns. In fact, his four touchdown catches rank fourth in the NFL. Not only has Maclin been a threat down the field (with catches of 45 and 41 yards this season), he's also been the team's most reliable target in the red zone (with three touchdowns inside the 20).
While he knows he's improving, the second-year receiver just tries to work within the offense and let plays develop on the field.
"I think I've just gotten better," Maclin said. "Whatever they ask me to do, I just go out there and do it. Some days you get a lot of balls, some days you don't, that's just the nature of the offense. You just go out there and do what they have you do, and do it to the best of your ability."
This weekend, the challenge for Maclin and the Eagles offense will be to put up points against a tough Atlanta defense at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles have won their first three games on the road for the first time since 2004, but are still in search for their first win in front of the home crowd. The last time the Eagles lost their first three games at home; only three offensive starters were alive, Ronald Reagan was President, and McDonald's introduced the "McNugget." The year was 1983, and the 2010 Eagles are determined avoid that kind of recognition.
"Coach (Andy Reid) was preaching to us today that we have to take that same aggressive mentality that we have on the road and take it inside the Linc," Maclin said. "I'm not saying we're not aggressive, I'm just saying that obviously on the road you know that you have to tune in, you have the crowd noise, you're not familiar with the turf… we just have to take that same mentality into our own stadium."
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 11:00 a.m., October 14