PITTSBURGH -- Head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said on Wednesday evening during a conference call from the team hotel that if Jeremy Maclin doesn't have any setbacks from a mysterious illness that plagued him all offseason, the third-year wide receiver could practice with the team in the next 7-10 days.
While the team still does not know exactly what the illness is, extensive testing - including laparoscopic surgery in his abdomen just last Thursday in St. Louis - has ruled out any life-threatening ailments and left the team confident that Maclin can resume normal football activity. Maclin is right around his playing weight of 198 pounds, according to Burkholder, and has experienced no symptoms of the illness since the start of training camp. The team will continue to monitor Maclin to make sure the illness remains dormant.
Maclin could join the team in Philadelphia as soon as Friday for rehab, but is expected no later than Saturday. The Eagles want to see where Maclin is with his strength and conditioning before clearing him for practice. Burkholder said, however, that it's "pretty safe" to say that Maclin will be ready for the season opener on September 11 in Maclin's hometown of St. Louis, fittingly enough, against the Rams.
"That's our goal," Burkholder said.
Maclin's teammates were ecstatic to receive the news as they made the trip across the state.
"It's great to hear that exciting news," quarterback Michael Vick said. "The whole time we were just believing and praying for him."
Running back LeSean McCoy, who along with Maclin were the team's top two draft picks in 2009, said it was tough to go through training camp knowing that Maclin was going through so much off the field.
"He's one of my best friends on the team," McCoy said. "I'm happy he's on board and doing fine."
Maclin has battled the mysterious illness since the middle of February when he started having symptoms that included low energy and weight loss. Blood tests done on Maclin returned abnormal results. The Eagles were not initially aware of Maclin's illness because of the work stoppage. Once Burkholder learned about the situation through media reports, Dr. Gary Dorshimer, the Eagles' team internist, worked with Maclin's surrogate father, Dr. Jeff Parres, who is a urologist, and a multitude of other doctors to find out what was wrong.
Maclin has been tested for everything from mono to HIV. He's had a CT scan, a PET scan, a lymph node biopsy and, most recently last Thursday, laparoscopic surgery done to search for the issue. Maclin told Jay Glazer of FOX Sports that one scan potentially showed that he could have had lymphoma, but that has been ruled out in the wake of last Thursday's procedure.
Excused from reporting for the start of training camp, Maclin joined the team briefly and participated in conditioning drills before returning to St. Louis for the laparoscopic surgery.
The Eagles' first-round draft pick in 2009, Maclin has had a sensational start to his career with 126 catches for 1,737 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first two seasons. After a sterling rookie campaign, Maclin topped those numbers with 70 catches for 964 yards and was tied for seventh in the league with 10 touchdowns.
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