During one portion of 7-on-7’s Tuesday the first-team offense showed a four-receiver look. From left to right it went: Riley Cooper, Josh Huff, Jordan Matthews, Jeremy Maclin. There were different personnel groupings throughout the day but that one stood out, maybe because it contained the receivers on which the most hope is pinned.
On the outside, two veterans that come with both accomplishment and a caveat. Cooper’s is that he has just one truly productive NFL season under his belt. Maclin’s is that he is coming off major knee surgery.
On the inside, a pair of first-year players who will be the exception rather than the rule if they have standout rookie years.
In the middle of it all, a quarterback in Nick Foles who seems just fine with the weapons he is working with — including the green ones.
“I’ve been able to see them out here and watch film of them, and they’re two special players that are doing a great job,” said Foles. “Matthews is a big, physical, athletic guy that is going to I think do really well. I love his attitude. He’s been a great teammate. And then Huff, he’s really built. He’s a fast, physical guy who runs solid routes so I’m excited about what these two do.”
The Eagles need to find a solid third option by September. Arrelious Benn or Brad Smith or another surprise candidate could theoretically be the guy, but there’s a good chance at least one of these rookies will be asked to contribute in a meaningful way. Matthews seems to be the early favorite to start in the slot.
Determining the No. 3 is a significant matter, but not nearly as big as the health and state of their No. 1. How does Maclin look compared to before he got hurt?
“Gut feeling, I think he’s better,” said Foles. “Mac is one of those guys, he doesn’t want to just get back to where he was, he wants to be better. When you go through injuries you have to face adversity, you’re mindset, you have to go through a lot. The way he handled everything last year, he did a great job of it to where he’s got even more strength — whether it’s mindset, wherever — where he can push it even harder. I think he is better than he ever was. Throwing to him on the field and seeing him run and catch, I think he looks great.”
100 Percent Attendance
There doesn’t appear to be many disgruntled players on this team. If there are, they’re showing up anyway.
“We had a hundred percent attendance for everything, including mini‑camps,” said Chip Kelly.
What does that say?
“We got a bunch of guys that love playing football.”
The one player that couldn’t be with this team earlier this offseason was safety Ed Reynolds because of the NCAA graduation rules. Classes have since ended at Stanford and the rookie re-joined the team at the tail end of OTAs.
“My head was spinning a little bit last Thursday when I came out here for OTAs but today, definitely picking it up a lot faster, the plays are coming to me a lot faster, adjustments, and then physically being able to run around, it feels good.”
The coaching staff was able to Skype with Reynolds during the time that he missed. Still, he’s behind, and the machine won’t slow down just so he can catch up.
“Our whole premise is we are going to throw him in at the deep end and see if he can swim,” said Kelly.