Eagles Training Camp Preview: Wide Receivers

Leading up to the first full-squad practice, our position-by-position preview continues with a look at the Eagles’ wide receivers.

Save ‘em a spot: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper

The Eagles had quality receivers in name only last season. Jackson wasn’t himself because of the contract situation and Jeremy Maclin didn’t hit his stride until the last handful of games following his health scare.

Consider: Maclin’s touchdowns were cut in half, scoring five in 2011 after finding the end zone 10 times the year prior. Jackson gained almost 100 yards less than the season before despite catching 11 more balls, and his four receiving TDs were the lowest for him since his rookie season.

As I noted earlier, wide receivers coach David Culley believes Cooper also would have flourished a good deal more if not for the lockout, and says he has benefitted significantly from this offseason.

In a season full of expectations dashed, the wideouts took a back seat to no one. The group should return to its non-distracted form.

Fighting for a job: Marvin McNutt, Damaris Johnson, Chad Hall, Tiger Jones, McKay Jacobson, Mardy Gilyard, Ron Johnson, Jamel Hamler, Elvis Akpla

If you agree that Cooper will make this team, then there are one or two spots remaining for the rest of the wide receiver hopefuls to fight over.

The Eagles used a sixth-round pick on the 6-2 McNutt, and you have to believe that he’ll get every opportunity to make the team.

From there, it could be a battle of the waterbugs. Hall has certainly maximized his potential and somehow managed to work his way into an offensive system that boasts some of the great playmakers in the game. He’ll be challenged by Johnson, a slippery speedster out of Tulsa who opened some eyes during minicamps. Johnson is a top candidate for fans’ camp crush.

They’ll also surely be rooting for Jones, the former Philadelphia Soul player.

“He’s athletic,” said Culley of the 5-11 Louisville product. “He understands what it’s all about and it will be interesting to see how he does. He deserves to be here.”

You can follow Tim McManus on Twitter and email him at tmcmanus@phillymag.com.

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