Philadelphia Eagles News

Three-And-Out: Wide Receiver

1. How far can DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin push each other?

Jackson and Maclin have established themselves as perhaps the most dynamic duo of receivers in the league. Jackson made his second straight Pro Bowl in 2010 when he posted 1,056 receiving yards on only 47 catches (a league-best 22.5 yards per reception) in 14 games. He also thrilled the football world with the first walk-off punt return for a touchdown in league history. Meanwhile, Maclin improved on his stellar rookie year with 964 receiving yards on 70 receptions, and he surely would have topped the 1,000-yard mark if not for the resting of starters in Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys.

So what's next for the tandem? For one, an offseason of familiarity with Michael Vick at quarterback should only help their production. And another year of development for Maclin, 23, and Jackson, 24, is almost a certainty. What makes the Eagles passing game so dangerous, beyond the respect defenses must pay to Vick's running ability, is that Maclin is sure to burn any defense that is tempted to ignore him in favor of double-teaming Jackson. Then again, anyone who dares single-cover Jackson is likely to get burned at some point as well. All told, it likely adds up to another season of headaches for opposing defensive coordinators.

2. Will they Eagles stand pat with their current crop of receivers?

As impressive as Jackson and Maclin are, they're not the only tricks in the team's bag. There's also Jason Avant, one of the league's most-respected third-down receivers. Riley Cooper showed promise in his rookie season, while mighty-mite Chad Hall is a versatile chess piece. Rod Harper and Jeremy Williams will be fighting for roster spots after a season on the practice squad. Add free agent addition Sinorice Moss as a potential comeback player with make-you-miss ability and the Eagles seem pretty well stocked at the position.

And yet, the Eagles have been one of the teams linked as a potential pursuer of Plaxico Burress, among other potential free agent wide receivers. Now, the Eagles are never one to turn their back on talent, and if they think there's a chance that Burress can regain his form as one of the league's best red-zone receivers then of course they would be interested. So don't rule out any additions, but it also wouldn't be a surprise to see the current stable of receivers as the team's playmakers come Week 1.

3. Can Riley Cooper make a leap in his second season?

Finding it difficult to get touches on such a stacked offensive unit, Cooper caught seven balls for 116 yards in his rookie season. Of course, Vick also trusted him enough to target him in the end zone on the season's final play. It's often said that a player's largest development comes between his rookie and sophomore seasons, which could be especially true for Cooper, who no longer has to deal with splitting his time between football and baseball as he did at the University of Florida.

At 6-3, 222, Cooper profiles as a potential red-zone threat and he has the requisite athleticism and sure-handedness to fill that role. But without the aid of an off-season conditioning program, Cooper will need to rely on self-motivation to begin to take the next jump (he has reportedly been a part of many of the unaffiliated workouts led by Vick and his teammates). While there still may not be touches aplenty available on a team that features Vick, Jackson, Maclin, Avant, LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek, Cooper will have every opportunity to stake his claim for more attention.

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