It was virtually the same sequence.
Jeremy Maclin accelerated down the right sideline, planted, and got his foot caught in the turf. He crumpled to the ground and immediately grabbed for his right knee.
“It was an awkward fall. Very similar to kind of what I did last year with the knee going straight into the ground like that,” said Maclin. “I really didn’t feel anything. My momentum had stopped because I couldn’t run anymore because my leg was stuck in the ground.
“It brought back flashbacks of how it happened.”
Similar thoughts shot through his teammates’ minds.
“I was on the other side of the field. I was super nervous,” said Riley Cooper. “All the bad stuff was going through my head. I was just, ‘No, not again.’ I just felt so sorry for him. I go, ‘No, this can’t be happening.’
“I was freaking out kind of,” added Jason Kelce. “Well, you’re not freaking out. You’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ The first thing you think of obviously, or at least the first thing I thought of was, ‘Oh no, not again. Hopefully this isn’t another torn ACL.’
After a minute or two on the ground, Maclin got up and shot a smile to his teammates as he walked off the field on his own. (“My boy’s alright,” thought Cooper.) In one moment it looked like the receiver was lost for the season. The next he was back in the game, having missed just one play.
He went back in for the next offensive series and finished with a game-high six catches for 43 yards. Cooper theorized that what Maclin felt was scar tissue breaking up, saying that he had a similar experience following his shoulder surgery. Whatever it was, it rattled the receiver. But it also seemed to serve a purpose.
“You need that type of stuff,” said Maclin. “I remember the story about Jamaal Jackson when he was coming back from his ACL. He had something that happened to him when he got rolled up the back and he was shook a little bit but after that they said everything just kind of took off from him.”
All eyes have been on Maclin — and more specifically, his twice reconstructed right knee — this offseason. And there have been a few scares along the way. Like when he stayed on the ground for an extended period of time after catching a touchdown pass in OTAs; or when he pulled himself out of practice on multiple occasions in training camp, limping to the sidelines. Friday’s incident was another reminder that the Eagles have a lot riding on a wideout coming off a significant surgery. Despite some tense moments, it looks like he will exit the preseason healthy.
“I think all that was,” said Maclin, “was reassurance that everything is in tact and everything is fine.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I don’t know what he’s battling, but obviously you’ve gotta make a field goal like that.” On Alex Henery and the kicker situation.
Sheil’s instant observations from Friday’s 31-21 win over the Steelers.
LeSean McCoy exited with a thumb injury but x-rays were negative.
Ohio State apparently wants to be “the Philadelphia Eagles of college football.”
Brandon Boykin missed the game with a hamstring injury.
Kapadia’s latest 53-man roster projection.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Reuben Frank believes big things could be in store this year for Brandon Graham.
OK, crazy prediction — Graham gets 10½ sacks this year. I know, I know … he’s a 4-3 defensive end playing out of position in a scheme he isn’t suited for. All I know is every time he’s on the field he gets to the quarterback. The Eagles have five sacks this preseason, and he has two of them. Trent Cole is the only player the Eagles have drafted in the last 20 years to record 10 sacks in a season for the Eagles. I’ve got Graham doing it this year. I don’t care if he only plays 20 snaps a game. Seriously.
Jeff McLane on an improved effort by the defense.
Getting off the field on third down was a struggle in the first two preseason games. Opposing offenses converted 20 of 32 opportunities against all three units. It was a problem last season, when the Eagles finished 24th in the league in opposing third-down success rate.
But the first-team defense forced Pittsburgh to punt on 3 of 5 third downs and was given the night off late in the first half without surrendering a point in an eventual 31-21 victory. The results were mixed when the Eagles were in their dime defense, which was mostly fielded to counter the Steelers’ five-receiver sets.
More reaction from the game.