NFL Nation: Jeremy Maclin

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PHILADELPHIA -- The injury is behind him. At least that's what Jeremy Maclin claims.

It has been more than a calendar year since the Philadelphia Eagles' wide receiver tore his anterior crucial ligament for a second time. Maclin missed the Eagles' first season under head coach Chip Kelly, when the team ranked No. 2 in the league in total offense. Instead, Maclin was relegated to the lonely monotony of rehab, rehab and more rehab, while the Eagles won the NFC East and hosted a playoff game.

So when Maclin scored the go-ahead touchdown Sunday in Philadelphia's season-opening 34-17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lincoln Financial Field, Maclin's teammates mobbed him in the end zone. It was a huge moment for the team, which had trailed 17-0 at halftime. But everyone knew it also was huge for Maclin, even if he wasn't willing to admit it.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Maclin
AP Photo/Chris SzagolaAfter missing all of last season, Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin found his groove again against Jacksonville.
"As much as you come back -- preseason and training camp and everything like that -- none of it matters until it's the season, and you get to do it for real," Eagles center Jason Kelce said. "The fact that he was able to have such a big play when we needed it most and go out and prove that he was the same old guy, it felt great for us, and I'm sure it felt great for him."

Quarterback Nick Foles looked for Maclin throughout the game, but nothing was clicking in the first half. On the final drive before halftime, Foles twice went deep to Maclin. On the first, Maclin was double covered. On the second, he couldn't get a hand on the ball.

But with the game tied 17-17 midway through the fourth quarter, Maclin ran a go route. The corner bit on a play-action fake, and Foles hit Maclin in stride for a 68-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles a 24-17 lead.

"Obviously everybody was excited," Maclin said. "I think that came at the right time. I think it kind of sucked a little bit of life out of them, so it was big."

Maclin finished with a team-high 97 receiving yards on four catches. He also showed that, while not as fast as former teammate DeSean Jackson, he can provide the Eagles with a downfield threat. That, too, is huge for a team that wants to take the next step in Kelly's second year.

"Just being able to play football was what I was looking for on its own," Maclin said. "I'm blessed. I'm fortunate. But like I just said, we've got a lot of room [to improve], and we need to get better."

As for his surgically repaired knee, Maclin said: "I wasn't really worried about it. I was going out there and playing football. The knee is behind me now, so I am looking forward."
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 NFL Nation's Phil Sheridan examines the three biggest issues facing the Philadelphia Eagles heading into training camp.

Can Nick Foles repeat, even improve on, his 2013 success? A year ago, Foles went into camp trailing Michael Vick in the starting quarterback competition that Vick eventually won. After leading the NFL in passer rating, throwing 27 touchdown passes and two interceptions, Foles has a pretty high bar to clear in his first full season as a starter. It is perfectly reasonable to expect Foles to be further from perfect than he was in 2013. But Foles can do that while still being very productive. If he throws a few more interceptions by taking some risks that also produce more touchdowns or big plays, the Eagles can live with that. Foles could even raise his game to an even higher level. It won't be easy, but with a coach like Chip Kelly, it's not out of the question, either. Foles looked very sharp -- accurate and confident -- during June practices. He seems buoyed, not intimidated or cowed, by being the clear No. 1 QB ahead of Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley. Training camp and the preseason will give everyone a chance to see whether he's making progress or heading toward a major regression. Best guess: Foles will be fine. Not otherworldly, but just fine.

Who will replace DeSean Jackson's production? That became the Eagles' most urgent question after Kelly decided to part ways with the guy who caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. Since we have no evidence Kelly is a madman, we have to conclude the coach had reason to believe he could get Jackson's production from other players. Jeremy Maclin was never the big-play guy that Jackson was, but he is a solid receiver who is hugely motivated to prove he can excel after a second ACL tear. Riley Cooper may come back to the pack a bit after his breakout 2013 season, but he also might rise to the occasion after experiencing success. The Eagles' additions are intriguing. Darren Sproles figures to be as versatile and unpredictable under Kelly as he was in New Orleans for Sean Payton. Second-round draft pick Jordan Matthews had people at organized team activities comparing his physique to that of Terrell Owens and could be a star in the future. Meanwhile, tight end Zach Ertz is expected to take that key second-season leap in production and reliability. Would the Eagles have been better with Jackson? Probably. Can they be as successful with strong seasons from Maclin, Sproles, Matthews, Cooper and Ertz? Kelly clearly thinks so.

Did the Eagles do enough to improve their defense? Looked at one way, the answer seems like a big "no." The Eagles didn't go out and sign a star defensive back or draft an elite, quarterback-eating pass-rusher. It would be easier to sell this defense if they had. What the Eagles are counting on is an across-the-board rise in experience and comfort in Bill Davis' defense. That isn't as glittery as marquee free agents or high draft picks, but it may prove to be more reliable than either of those. And there is some foundation for hope. The Eagles' defense really did improve over the course of the 2013 season. It looked a lot better in December than in September, and that is why the Eagles may have more new starters on offense than on defense. The front seven looks like it will be the same as it was at the end of 2013. First-round pick Marcus Smith will play as he proves he's ready, but there is no reason to rush him when Trent Cole is playing as well as he did last season. Malcolm Jenkins is a smart and reliable safety, and that should help the secondary immeasurably. The best guess is the starting cornerbacks return. If not, it will be because Nolan Carroll shows that he is better than one of them.

Overall, the Eagles added a bunch of players who will push last year's starters. If they're better, they'll see the field. If not, it will mean the incumbents have fended off the challenge. Either way, the defense should be better.
PHILADELPHIA -- Jordan Matthews, the second-round pick from Vanderbilt, has gotten a fair amount of attention during the past two weeks of OTA practices.

He’s gotten quite a bit from quarterbacks, who like throwing to a 6-foot-3 target with good hands. He’s gotten attention from defensive backs, who go where the ball is going. And Matthews has gotten a fair amount of attention from reporters working the who-will-replace-DeSean-Jackson angle.

[+] EnlargeSproles
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsAs the Eagles search for ways to replace DeSean Jackson's explosive plays, new running back Darren Sproles will be part of the solution.
That is understandable enough. The release of Jackson, a Pro Bowl receiver in his prime, was the most puzzling move yet during Chip Kelly’s tenure as head coach. Whatever you think of the move, and the explanations or lack of same, the Eagles created a need for themselves and Matthews is the draft pick destined to be seen as the solution to that problem.

But that’s not really fair. The truth is, the Eagles have to replace the element of speed that Jackson provided. They can do that a number of ways. Matthews might not have quite that elite speed himself, but he can be part of the mix in Kelly’s offense.

“I can see Matthews has a quick first step,” veteran cornerback Cary Williams said. “I can see him being very explosive out of breaks. And once he gets his hands on the ball, he looks like someone who can break a couple tackles and take a simple, six-yard curl into an 80-yard play.”

For now, Matthews is running with the second team as the slot receiver. That has more to do with Kelly’s approach to teaching rookies than anything. Chances are, Matthews will replace Jason Avant in the slot, with Jeremy Maclin, back from a torn ACL, stepping into Jackson’s spot on the outside.

Maclin has good speed, but not Jackson speed. The Eagles added elite speed when they acquired Darren Sproles in a trade with New Orleans. But as Kelly was quick to point out last week, Sproles is a running back. He’s not a wide receiver.

Still, Sproles’ speed can have the same effect on defenses as Jackson’s did. He can force defensive coordinators to account for him, and that is half the battle. Kelly’s ability to deploy his other weapons, to take advantage of the space created by that speed, is the other half.

“We knew [Sproles] was a really, really talented player, and when he got here, he showed that right from the jump,” Kelly said. “We heard from the coaches that coached him what an intelligent football player he is and learned that from the first day he was in this building, and how sharp he is and how dedicated he is.

“I talked to Norv Turner (who coached Sproles in San Diego) and he remarked to me when I saw him at one of the pro days, he said, ‘You'll have to slow him down because he only knows one speed.’ And that's the same thing you see. Darren practices and trains at one speed. It's awesome. He fits in with the culture that we want in terms of preparation, but it's everything we wanted when we got him here.”

Kelly’s ability to move Sproles around, and to mix and match all his other offensive weapons, will give the Eagles plenty of versatility this season. It is that, more than Matthews or any other one player, that will replace Jackson’s speed.
PHILADELPHIA -- Jeremy Maclin got up. The moment of hushed concern passed, and everything shifted back to normal in the Philadelphia Eagles' world. The wide receiver walked off the field as practice ended, reporting his knee was fine.

In that moment, though, much was revealed about the state of this team as it begins Chip Kelly's second season as head coach.

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Matt Rourke/AP PhotoThe Eagles' offense will depend on more players than just wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in 2014.
The immediate reaction: that another injury to Maclin could be devastating because of his perceived status as the replacement for DeSean Jackson in Kelly's scheme. But in reality, that is not the case and it never was. The Eagles will try to replace Jackson's production with Darren Sproles, with draft picks Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff, with second-year tight end Zach Ertz, with Arrelious Benn and, yes, with Maclin.

The Eagles won 10 games and the NFC East title last year without Maclin, who tore an ACL during training camp last summer. The former first-round pick has been a solid starter during his tenure here, but he has not had the kind of impact Jackson had. That's why, when the Eagles released Jackson in March, it was fair to worry that they were expecting too much from Maclin. Not only has he not been the big-play guy Jackson was, but Maclin would now be playing on two surgically reconstructed knees.

But here's the other twist. Any attempt to project Maclin's production based on his performance under Andy Reid is a waste of time. Kelly's scheme turned Riley Cooper, a former fifth-round pick, into a valuable asset and favorite target of quarterback Nick Foles. It will be fascinating to see what Kelly can do with Maclin.

"I was really excited about how he would fit into what we do because of what he can do," Kelly said of Maclin. "And then to lose him that early in camp was disappointing. You got a taste of him. But having him out there full speed, running out there right now, he's doing a really good job."

Maclin has good speed, but not Jackson's speed. So one issue is whether Maclin or someone else can provide enough of a deep threat to create space for LeSean McCoy to run the ball and for the other receivers to work underneath the coverage. The addition of Sproles by trade and of Matthews and Huff in the draft should help there.

But even McCoy wonders. He led the NFL in rushing last season. But McCoy said this week that he would have to see how the offense functions now before he could assess the impact of Jackson's departure.

The suspicion is that Kelly has all of this worked out in his busy mind. It is clear the coach made the decision to release Jackson. He wouldn't have done so without a sound plan for his offense to remain effective. And that is the objective. It isn't about replacing exactly what Jackson did, it's about building a balanced, varied attack with the players who are here.

All of those players stopped suddenly when Maclin went down at the end of Monday's practice. But that's because they were concerned for a teammate who is coming off a serious knee injury. They were not concerned about the fate of their offense. That is in too many hands this season.

Kelly happy to have Maclin at full go

May, 30, 2014
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PHILADELPHIA – All Jeremy Maclin could do was watch, wait and work.

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But he couldn’t play.

For an ultra-competitive player such as Maclin, it was quite difficult. After suffering a torn ACL in training camp last year, Maclin was unable to be part of the new-look Philadelphia Eagles, who finished 10-6 and captured an NFC East title under coach Chip Kelly.

Fast forward nearly a year and the wide receiver is back and prepared to make a difference.

“Mac's doing fantastic,” Kelly said. “One of the things I loved about all three of those guys [Maclin and other injured players] is every single day in the offseason last year, or in season last year, they were here, we have them. They got right to it immediately after the surgery. All three guys are cleared, full go out there. ... And Mac's doing a really good job, just getting back familiar with it. I was really excited about how he would fit into what we do because of what he can do. And then to lose him that early in camp was disappointing. You got a taste of him. But having him out there full speed running out there right now, he's doing a really good job.”

Maclin, who recently signed a one-year contract, spoke to reporters Thursday as the Eagles completed this round of OTAs.

Since joining the Eagles as a first-round draft pick in 2009, Maclin has compiled a team-high 258 receptions.

With the losses of DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, Maclin will be in competition with Riley Cooper, Arrelious Benn and draft picks Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff, among others, for playing time.

“I've been at it for a while now,” Maclin told reporters. “This was the first day that [reporters] have been here, but since day one that we reported back, I've been out there with the team and doing everything that they're doing. It's kind of becoming routine for me now.”

Maclin believes he’s in a good position to pick up where he left off before the knee injury.

“As far as what we're doing on offense, it's not changing one bit,” Maclin said. “We've added some pieces, but I'm looking forward to seeing this offense take the step to the next level. I think we definitely have the guys that can do that. I had all last season to kind of get into the playbook and learn the offense, so I'm not behind on that aspect. But it's different [being out there]. You don't know what you're getting into until you get out on the football field. The way that we practice, things were flying at a fast pace. So once you get the thinking part down, I think you just react, and that's when you kind of get comfortable in the offense.”

Maclin on Jackson release, Eagles' offense

April, 25, 2014
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Opinions have varied on the Philadelphia Eagles’ decision to release wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

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The latest player to discuss the controversial move was Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

“I don’t think you release a guy to send a message,” Maclin told CSNPhilly.com. “We’re not in high school anymore. I don't think you do it like that.”

Maclin was pressed about whether there was a lesson in the roster shakeup.

“It’s all about doing the right thing at the end of the day,” Maclin said. “That’s what you do. You come up, you show up to work, do the right things, be positive, things are going to work out in your favor. It all comes down to doing the right things.”

Here are a few more thoughts from Maclin:

On whether the Eagles can replace Jackson’s downfield speed: “We’ll be fine, man. … Because I have faith in the offense and I got faith in the guys we have in the locker room. [Coach] Chip [Kelly] said it himself -- the offense isn’t built around one guy. We have multiple guys that can go out there and make plays. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this year.”

On his relationship with Jackson: “Our relationship is our relationship. It doesn’t need to be shared with anybody else.”

On whether the Eagles still have at least two dynamic wide receivers: “I think we have two. I think we have more than two, but I think we have two, definitely.”

Eagles: Expectations are high for Maclin

April, 7, 2014
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So much talk has centered around the loss of DeSean Jackson that it has been easy to forget about the return of another wide receiver.

The Philadelphia Eagles recently signed Jeremy Maclin to a one-year deal. Maclin missed all of last season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Maclin
From 2009-12, Maclin caught 258 passes for 3,453 yards and 26 touchdowns. Maclin, 25, has never had less than 56 catches in a single season.

Maclin is dependable and consistently grabs passes across the middle. The biggest hurdle for Maclin will be overcoming the ACL injury and having the confidence to take those hard hits on a daily basis.

Maclin, the Eagles' first-round pick from Missouri in 2009, suffered the injury at the beginning of training camp last year.

“I’m excited to see Jeremy play in our offense,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly told CSNPhilly.com. “You saw the potential of that in the spring and summer, but obviously he didn't get an opportunity last year. However, what was great to see was how he was literally here every single day since being injured. You can see he has a passion for the game of football. When he was on the field last spring and summer, you saw his intelligence, you saw his great route-running ability and you saw how tough of a one-on-one matchup he could be.”

Maclin recently said he wasn't sure if he would be cleared in time for organized team activities that begin April 21. But he expects to be ready for the start of training camp in late July.

If Maclin can play like he did from 2009-12, the Eagles will have another threat on offense. Maybe not the deep threat like Jackson, but a stellar wide receiver nonetheless who has put up big numbers in the past.

“I would say our expectations are he's going to be a really good player for us this year," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told CSNPhilly.com. "He has the traits we look for at the receiver position. It's no secret that we thought he was going to have a big year, and he had an unfortunate injury. That's our expectation. He adds another dynamic threat to our offense.”

It will be the first chance for Maclin in playing under Kelly. Judging by how the Eagles' offense fared last season, it's safe to assume Maclin will have a chance to shine.
The Philadelphia Eagles were active in keeping their own players, such as Jeremy Maclin, Jason Kelce and Riley Cooper. They were active in signing free agents, such as safety Malcolm Jenkins, and trading for running back Darren Sproles.

But the biggest move was cutting wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who stayed in the NFC East by signing with the Washington Redskins.

In ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's Grade A draft, he plays general manager for the Eagles, not Howie Roseman or Chip Kelly. What would Mel do as GM?

Find out here. Insider

Jeremy Maclin's bet could pay off

March, 31, 2014
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Jeremy Maclin was betting on himself when he decided to sign a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason.

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He has a chance to cash in with a big 2014, and that chance got better when the Eagles decided to part ways with DeSean Jackson.

"I didn't really think about it," Maclin said in this Philadelphia Inquirer story. "I think my value is my value, regardless of who I have playing around me. That's my mindset and how I approach the situation."

The question for Maclin is his knee injury. Adrian Peterson has ruined the expectations for every player coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament, setting a bar almost impossibly high. He ran for 2,097 yards in 2012 after tearing his ACL. Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III tore his ACL but was not the same in 2013 as he was in 2012, and ex-coach Mike Shanahan ended his season early.

The normal progression is it takes a full year for a player to feel whole again.

While ACL comebacks are more common these days, the rehab is still a tedious process. Maclin is expected to be ready to go when training camp begins, but the Eagles could limit his work in the offseason program.

Maclin has big-play ability -- 26 touchdown catches in four seasons -- but he has never had more than 964 yards in a season. He has never caught more than 70 passes in a season. While he knows what Chip Kelly’s offense is about after being around the team, he hasn’t gone through it on the field before.

Patience on both ends will be wise. Maclin will have to be patient with his recovery. The Eagles will have to be patient with Maclin.

The reward for the patience could be big for both sides.

What now for the Eagles at WR?

March, 30, 2014
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When the Philadelphia Eagles signed Riley Cooper to a long-term deal and brought back Jeremy Maclin on a one-year deal earlier this offseason, some took it as one of many signs they were thinking about moving on from DeSean Jackson. They were, and I'd argue that the Darren Sproles trade should have been seen as evidence of same.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly, DeSean Jackson
AP Photo/Matt RourkeWithout DeSean Jackson to stretch the field, Eagles coach Chip Kelly has to find other options and strategies at wide receiver.
On the face of it, the release of Jackson leaves the Eagles precariously thin at wide receiver. Maclin is recovering from a torn ACL that cost him the entire 2013 season, so it's hard to know for sure that he can be counted on. And I don't think it's insulting Cooper to suggest that he benefited from having Jackson on the field with him last year. The 2013 Eagles used Jackson in motion all over the formation, often as bait to force the defense into showing where the coverage was going. And Jackson's rare speed has always led defenses to commit at least some double coverage to him.

That said, Chip Kelly surely has a plan, or more likely many plans, for how to make up for the on-field loss of Jackson. It's easy to imagine Sproles being a part of it. He's not a wide receiver, but he's a running back the Saints used almost exclusively on passing downs and can play some of the roles Jackson played last year when he lined up in the backfield. Sproles can also be split out wide or used in the slot. He does not have Jackson's speed, because no one does, and he's not a candidate to stretch the field deep or draw double coverage. But when the Eagles run those package plays where they force the defense to commit coverage one way before Nick Foles throws the ball, Sproles can be a helpful piece close to the line of scrimmage and can make things happen when he catches the ball in space.

Maclin is a question mark. If healthy, he likely replaces Jackson to the extent that Jackson was used last year on the outside. Maclin used to have elite speed, so we'll see the extent to which the effects of the ACL surgery have changed that. But Kelly surely had specific plans for Maclin last year before Maclin got hurt, so there are elements to the offense involving him that we probably haven't even seen yet.

If Maclin isn't healthy, the Eagles have a major issue. They like Arrelious Benn, whom they acquired last offseason in a trade with Tampa Bay, but he himself is coming off ACL surgery. Damaris Johnson is seen as a potential playmaker in space, but we haven't seen it translate on the field very much yet. And it's worth noting that this year's draft is considered to be an excellent draft for the wide receiver position. The Eagles could find a receiver in the early rounds to add to their stable, and if that guy were to develop quickly, he could be a potential solution as well.

One thing of which I'm sure is that Kelly didn't release Jackson without first considering, in painstaking detail, myriad ways of attempting to replace his production on the field. Kelly does nothing without a plan and extensive preparation. He has created for himself a puzzle that will be more difficult to solve without Jackson than last year's was with him. But he does still have a decent number of good-looking tools at his disposal to help him solve it.

Losing Jackson hurts, but how much?

March, 28, 2014
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The sad part of the DeSean Jackson mess is this: He was, and still is, a terrific talent. A Chip Kelly offense with Jackson ... and LeSean McCoy ... and a healthy Jeremy Maclin ... and Darren Sproles? That would have entertained one set of fans and scared the heck out of another.

Perhaps defensive coordinators can sleep a little better the night before facing Philadelphia now that the Eagles released Jackson. That is, unless the Eagles prove that life without Jackson is still a difficult one for defenses.

There's no way to sugarcoat the release of a talent such as Jackson. There's no need to get into the off-field aspects of the decision, other than to say it's a shame it came to this. And before the latest story broke on the receiver, prompting his release, some teams already considered him to be a walking red flag.

Still, my focus deals with his on-field performance and what it means for the Eagles. He was a dynamic receiver who helped make this offense dangerous. I don't care what system you run, or who's calling the plays, it's playmakers such as Jackson who can make any playcaller look good.

But the Eagles knew trouble was coming, which is why they were still able to construct an offense that should remain strong. Just as scary? It's hard to take out a guy such as Jackson and think it will just be the same. Quarterback Nick Foles targeted Jackson more than any other receiver last season (70 times) and completed 71.4 percent of those passes to him, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Nobody had more touchdown catches of 30-plus yards since 2008 (Mike Wallace shared the lead with 21).

Jackson was a guy who could open up the rest of the offense with his presence. One play by him could change a game, even if he didn't do a whole lot the rest of the way. The problem for defenses: They never knew which play it would be. Will the Eagles have anyone like that next season? Then again, given the depth of talent, do they need to?

Of course, the Eagles also were dangerous at times last season without Maclin (or Sproles, for that matter). If Maclin returns to form, he can be a dynamic threat. Two years ago he led the Eagles with 69 catches for 857 yards and seven touchdowns, but he's also never had a 1,000-yard season. However, he did have 46 more catches and five more touchdown receptions than Jackson in their time together with the Eagles.

And remember last summer? When Maclin was excited to be part of Kelly's offense because, he said, the previous one only wanted to feature Jackson's position -- and, therefore, Jackson?

"When Marty [Mornhinweg] was here, we tailored it around the flanker position," Maclin told CSN Philly in July. "That's just how it was ... The fact that I was able to personally accomplish what I accomplished, I think as far as the position I was playing, I think that's above what that guy normally does."

But, he said, there was no tailoring to one position in Kelly's offense. Indeed, part of what made their scheme dangerous is the multiple options to defend on a play. Run, by the quarterback or the running back, or pass. Bubble screen or hitting the tight end down the seam. Defenses had to worry about the multiple options available to Foles. Overplay one way and they could hit you the other. So the scheme works well when it has the right talent. And they should still have the right talent with not only Maclin but McCoy, Sproles, receiver Riley Cooper, and tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz.

The Eagles will survive cutting Jackson. Maybe if Sproles remains a threat, as I think he will, and Maclin is healthy and close to the same, then they can continue to flourish. But there's no way to say losing a guy such as Jackson will result in anything but questions. But the Eagles will move on -- and they will still move down the field. That could be wishful thinking on the Eagles' part, but for now, they have the parts to make them believe it will be a reality.

Jeremy Maclin on track in recovery

March, 27, 2014
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- After tearing his right ACL last July, Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin is on the comeback trail and coach Chip Kelly struck an optimistic tone about his progress.

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“Mac is doing well, rehab-wise,” Kelly said at the NFL’s annual meeting. “One thing about Mac, he’s been there every single day, even last year during the season he attended position meetings and was in the training room it seemed like every day. There are a few guys -- Mac, [linebacker] Jason Phillips, that you kind of see every day. Arrelious Benn was the same way, in that those guys really attacked rehab.

“According to what everybody is saying, he’s on track. I think it was a big blow for us losing him in the preseason, because I was excited to work through OTAs and minicamp with him. He’s very, very talented. He’s one of those guys that if we’re going to see a lot of man coverage, I think can do a really, really good job because he’s such a precise route-runner, has outstanding speed, and is good after the catch.

“So we’re excited to have him back. I don’t know exactly what his status will be in the offseason, through OTAs and minicamp, but I know he’ll be 100 percent when we get to camp.”

With speculation swirling about DeSean Jackson’s future with the Eagles, Maclin’s presence could become that much more important.
The Philadelphia Eagles need a backup quarterback. Mark Sanchez needs a new place to restart his career.

With ESPN Insider Chris Mortenson reporting Sanchez is expected to sign with the Eagles, it brings together two sides filling a major need.

Sanchez
Nick Foles is without question the Eagles' starter. He threw 27 touchdown passes and had just two interceptions while compiling an 8-2 record in 2013. But with Michael Vick off to the New York Jets and Matt Barkley an unknown, coach Chip Kelly is dipping into the Pac-12 quarterbacks again.

Kelly was Oregon's offensive coordinator when Sanchez played at Southern Cal.

We will now get to see if he can revitalize Sanchez.

Things started so well for Sanchez with the Jets. He helped New York and Rex Ryan to two straight AFC Championship Games, losing to Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, but he never made the next step in his career.

His best statistical year came in 2011, when he threw for 3,474 yards with 26 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, but the Jets lost their final three games and that was the end of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

Tony Sparano did not help Sanchez in 2012. A shoulder injury kept Sanchez out last year.

Provided the shoulder checks out, Sanchez will become the backup to Foles.

Kelly's first order of business is lifting Sanchez's accuracy. He is a 55.1 percent passer for his career. The best he has had in his career is 56.7 percent. In today's NFL with the rules the way they are, quarterbacks must complete about 65 percent to be effective.

With the Eagles, Sanchez would have better tools around him, especially on the offensive line. He could have DeSean Jackson at wide receiver, at least for a minute. He would have Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper to go with Brent Celek and Zach Ertz at tight end. And of course he would have LeSean McCoy.

He would also have Kelly, who has won with different kinds of quarterbacks along his stops at New Hampshire, Oregon and last year with the Eagles.

The Eagles are not the ground-and-pound of the Jets in Sanchez's first two years, but Kelly will run the ball to control the game and his quarterback.

Sanchez would be going to a perfect spot without the pressure to be the Sanch-ise. All he would need to be is a backup, not a savior.
The Washington Redskins had interest in Darren Sproles. As has happened often this offseason, another team landed him. According to multiple reports the Eagles traded for the New Orleans running back Thursday, adding another weapon to an already dangerous offense.

Meanwhile, Dallas defensive lineman Jason Hatcher will visit with Washington on Friday, a source said. But Hatcher is visiting with Oakland Thursday.

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Hatcher
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The Washington Post’s Mark Maske reported that the Redskins did not want to trade draft picks for Sproles. It also would have required them to pay him a base salary of $3.4 million (in addition to a workout bonus of $100,000). But it’s uncertain why the Redskins would have been interested if they didn’t want to surrender draft picks. Without much depth, there’s little else they could offer New Orleans.

Philadelphia traded a fifth-round pick for Sproles, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Regardless, it’s another weapon for the Eagles to go with LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin. Sproles would lessen the need for McCoy to handle all roles for the Eagles. And Sproles is a perfect fit for that offense, with his ability to line up all over -- he’s also excellent on bubble screens, a big part of their offense. Of course, they have done little to improve their defense aside from signing safety Malcolm Jenkins.

As for Hatcher, he played well against Washington last season and would be an end in their front. He can also collapse the pocket in their nickel rush, something the Redskins did not do enough of last season.

The 6-foot-6, 299-pound Hatcher is coming off his best season with 11 sacks, but he’ll turn 32 before the season and would command a salary probably around $5 million per year. ESPN Dallas reporter Todd Archer speculated on Hatcher’s value here. It’s tough to give a lot of money to a player who will be in his mid-30s when the contract nears the end, but that could drive down his price a little.

Hatcher did not become a full-time starter until 2011. As a 3-4 end, he recorded a combined 8.5 sacks in ’11 and ’12.

Free-agency primer: Eagles

March, 7, 2014
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Key free agents: QB Michael Vick, WR Jason Avant, S Nate Allen, P Donnie Jones, S Kurt Coleman.

Where they stand: By keeping wide receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin off the market, the Eagles assured their starting offense would look very much as it did in 2013. There are no obvious positions of need on that side of the ball that would likely be addressed in free agency. The defensive side is another matter. That unit made fine progress in its first year with coordinator Bill Davis’ 3-4 scheme, but the Eagles need playmakers there, especially in the secondary. Having $20-25 million in salary-cap space gives them the flexibility to do whatever they choose.

What to expect: GM Howie Roseman has repeatedly said he does not want to overpay in free agency, but the Eagles might have to go that route with a safety like Jairus Byrd, T.J. Ward or Chris Clemons. Going for bargains at that position just has not worked, and Roseman has acknowledged he doesn’t want to get to the draft in dire need of a safety. There isn’t a lot of depth at outside linebacker -- teams do their best to hold on to effective pass-rushers -- but Roseman could look for a second-tier guy there. It would not be surprising if the Eagles re-signed Jones and added a kicker in free agency to compete with, or flat-out replace, Alex Henery. Keep an eye on a return man, perhaps Devin Hester or Dexter McCluster.

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