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Position Preview: Wide Receiver


A Look At The Wide Receivers
Name Age Exp. Signed Through Note
Arrelious Benn 25 5 2014 Can he return from ACL and contribute?
Riley Cooper 26 5 2018 Will he build upon breakout season?
Damaris Johnson 24 3 2014 Can he find a niche as an all-around player?
Jeremy Maclin 25 6 2014 Nick Foles called him a "top-tier WR"
Jeff Maehl 25 2 2014 Special teamer who showed flashes on offense
Ifeanyi Momah 24 1 2015 Will size, speed translate to field?
Will Murphy 23 1 2015 From practice squad to 53-man roster in '14?
Brad Smith 30 9 2014 Rock-solid special teamer, gets full offseason.

Here's a look at the state of the wide receiver position as the Eagles prepare for Training Camp ...


The Big Questions

Can Jeremy Maclin return healthy and better than ever following an ACL tear that wiped out his entire 2013 season?

Jeremy Maclin seemed poised for the best season of his career in Chip Kelly's offense in 2013, but an ACL injury on the second day of Training Camp dashed those dreams. Undeterred, he diligently rehabbed all season and into the offseason and has said that he would be cleared to practice if Training Camp started now. Maclin, who signed a one-year contract with the Eagles the day before hitting free agency, is ready to step into the No. 1 wide receiver role vacated by the departed DeSean Jackson and have his best season in 2014.

Maclin, who turns 26 on May 11, established a great rapport with starting quarterback Nick Foles in the five games the two played together in 2012. Foles looked to Maclin as his top target, and the latter recorded 29 receptions for 386 yards and three touchdowns in that span. Extrapolated over a 16-game season, those numbers come out to 93 receptions for 1,236 yards and 10 touchdowns. Suffice to say the Eagles and Maclin would gladly take that kind of production.

Can Riley Cooper build upon his breakout season in 2013 and improve even more in 2014?

In his fourth season, Riley Cooper finally put everything together and emerged as a viable No. 2 wide receiver in the NFL. He had shown flashes of potential before in his career, but he never could manage to become a consistent force. After Maclin's injury, however, Cooper seized the opportunity, and once Foles took over as starting quarterback, his play took off. The two had instant chemistry, and Foles was never afraid to put the ball up for Cooper in coverage so he could make a play. Cooper also showed he had big-play ability down the field, and Foles found him often for huge gains. In the 10 full games that that Foles started in 2013, Cooper had 37 receptions for 729 yards – 19.7 yards per catch – and seven touchdowns. His performance in 2013 earned him a five-year contract in the offseason.

Cooper finished 2013 with 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns, and his 17.8 yards per catch ranked tied with Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions for third in the NFL. The Eagles re-signed him with the hopes that those numbers are a sign of things to come for the former Florida Gator, who turns 27 in September. Now it is time for Cooper to take his game to yet another level in 2014.

Who emerges from the rest of the pack to make an impact?

Darren Sproles was acquired in the offseason and, though technically a running back, it is thought he will predominantly fill a receiver role. Arrelious Benn, whom the Eagles specifically targeted and acquired from Tampa Bay early in the 2013 offseason, is returning from a torn ACL and hungry to prove he has the ability to be an important contributor to this offense – much like he was for the Buccaneers in 2010 and 2011. Jeff Maehl had some moments as a receiver in 2013, while Damaris Johnson dazzled in Training Camp but was not able to carry that performance over into the regular season.

Brad Smith, a midseason acquisition, saw some snaps as a receiver and in the backfield, in addition to handling kick-return duties. B.J. Cunningham, Will Murphy and Ifeanyi Momah, the latter two were signed after the season to Reserve/Futures contract, round out the corps. And, of course, there is still the NFL Draft next week, during which the Eagles figure to add at least one more wide receiver to their arsenal.

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