Jeremy Maclin took the next step in what, at times this summer, seemed like a questionable return to the football field Saturday when he participated in practice for the first time in 2011. Coming off an impressive second season in which he totaled 70 catches for 964 yards, Maclin found out he was cleared of Lymphoma around 10 days ago. Now, he's preparing for what will be a homecoming of sorts, the Eagles' season opener against the Rams in St. Louis, Maclin's home town.
"There's no doubt about that," Maclin said when asked if he'll suit up for Week 1. "I think this week, they kind of want to ease me into it, monitor my reps. I think they'll let me loose next week. I don't know what that (entails), but I think I'll go back to pretty much being the same guy I was beforehand."
Maclin said that his conditioning is pretty much where it needs to be and he's at his playing weight of 195 pounds. The bigger challenge at the moment is simply refining the precision of his routes.
"I just haven't done that in a while," he said. "There's definitely some work I need to do, but like I said, I think I'll get back to my normal self pretty soon."
Maclin said that he feels good enough that he would be able to play on Thursday if it were a regular season game, though he'll likely be held out of the preseason finale against the New York Jets.
Maclin wasn't the only wide receiver to return to practice Saturday, as Pro Bowler Steve Smith also participated in his first practice since joining the Eagles. Those two, along with DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant and Riley Cooper, give the Eagles a formidable stable of receivers. Will there be enough balls to go around?
"They have a plan for guys and putting guys in the right spot," Maclin said. "We'll kind of all look forward to the game plan that (offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg) puts together and see where guys are at and go with it after that. You know me, I'm a pretty cmopetitive person, so I think I'm in good shape."