WRs Maclin, Cooper have green light for season opener
PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles will open their regular season Sunday, and Jeremy Maclin will be there, physically and emotionally, his knee healed, his head cleared, his career back.
“It’s all behind me now,” he said. “Now I am just looking forward.”
For the Eagles’ projected No. 1 wide receiver, it has been a tough year, all of it, right into its final weeks. Hs spent all of last season recovering from surgery after tearing his right ACL early in the 2013 training camp, watching home games at the Linc, watching road games, he recalls, from his couch. But while he’d recovered and was cleared to resume training this summer, he was, at every turn, careful, regularly taking trainingcamp plays off. Some of that was due to a hamstring injury, some of it to the necessary caution that a 26-year-old veteran would have after knee surgery.
Yet, that was the preseason. Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars will visit the Linc, and it will count. And the Eagles are counting on Maclin, whose renewed availability contributed to their decision to cut DeSean Jackson. So not only must he be available, but he must be rustfree more than 20 months since his last regular-season game. Pass the oil can? “I think I got a total of 60-something plays during the preseason, which kind of knocked the rust off,” Maclin said Wednesday, after practice. “I feel good. I feel like I’ve had my best week of practice this week so far.”’
Maclin caught seven passes for 58 yards and no touchdowns in the preseason, with the Eagles, as per NFL custom, rarely subjecting any key player to undue physical risk. Nor was Riley Cooper, their other projected starting receiver, overused, as he spent most of camp recovering from an ankle injury and catching just three passes in the exhibition games.
Even with Chip Kelly’s
offense being reputed for its versatility and ability to produce points, the Eagles technically will be confronting that possible crisis Sunday, with their top two receivers having combined for 10 preseason receptions.
Yet every peep coming out of the NovaCare Complex Wednesday was that Maclin and Cooper are ready. Both were reported to have practiced fully, and neither was walking with any noticeable limp afterward. Maclin reported that he has been removed from “the treatment list,” and that he is clear to play without crossed fingers.
“He’s really actually done very well coming back from his injury and then going through the training sessions,” said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur of Maclin. “As we get ready to play now — and we kind of structure our training sessions where we’re practicing drives and making sure we get groups of plays so that they get their conditioning — I think he is ready to go.”
Shurmur is equally confident in Cooper.
“Riley is the same,” he said. “I think they are ready to go. These are guys that have played in the NFL for multiple years. They understand what it takes to get ready to go. They are comfortable in