Jeremy Maclin took another step in his return to the football field Saturday, going through conditioning drills and reconvening with his teammates for the first time since the announcement that he's been cleared to return to football activities after a Lymphoma scare.
"It's a big relief," Maclin said following practice. "It was definitely a long process, but luckily everything came out negative."
Maclin and head coach Andy Reid said that Maclin will likely continue working on his conditioning for the next week or so before he joins practice as a full participant. Considering the scare looming over Maclin throughout the offseason, that's tremendous news.
"It was tough, especially when it could have been as serious as they say it could have been," said Maclin. "It's tough, no matter what you're doing, it's always in the back of your mind. It was good to kind of clear that cloud that was in the back of my mind.
"I was feeling fine. I was working out. I felt like it wasn't (lymphoma). The doctors, they just weren't sure, so they had to keep doing more and more tests. Normally, when somebody has (Lymphoma), you normally don't get better. The symptoms actually get worse until you get treatment. That was one thing I had going in my favor."
Entering his third season, Maclin has already established himself as one of the leaders in the locker room. So even though he had plenty of other things to think about, Maclin was quite aware of the flurry of moves the team made to bolster the roster once free agency opened up.
"I was very in tuned to what was going on," he said. "We have all the right pieces, man, now we have to put that puzzle together. That's what the preseason's for, everybody kind of gets their feet wet, kind of get the feel of each other. Hopefully that puzzle's getting put together."
Maclin will fit quite smoothly into that puzzle, sliding in opposite DeSean Jackson to give the Eagles the dynamic duo at wide receiver that was featured in 2010, now bolstered by Pro Bowler Steve Smith, not to mention the always steady Jason Avant. Maclin said he expects to be back on the same page with Michael Vick in seamless fashion.
"I think if you give us a few practices together then we'll kind of get back used to each other," he said. "Working together last year, working together this offseason, I think has definitely helped us. I don't think it'll take too long."
Meanwhile, Maclin said there is "no doubt" he'll be on the field for the season opener on September 11. In what is almost a fairy tale twist of fate for the receiver, that first game happens to take place against the Rams in St. Louis, Maclin's home town. Maclin acknowledged that he's likely to be emotional, though he hasn't thought too much about it yet.
"But I'm really excited to play in that game," he said.