Crystal Ball: Jeremy Maclin

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have eight players that are set to become unrestricted free agents: Jeremy MaclinRiley CooperMichael VickNate AllenDonnie JonesKurt ColemanColt Anderson and Clifton Geathers.

Tim and Sheil will look at one free agent per day and give their take on what should and what will happen with these players. Maclin is up first. Read more »

Roseman Talks Offseason Issues

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Howie Roseman
sat down with a small group of reporters Monday afternoon to address a few of the issues facing the Eagles this offseason.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the wide receiver position, particularly with  Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper  both set to become free agents.  Roseman said that he’s open to bringing both Maclin and Cooper back.

“It certainly depends on the price in anything that you’re going to do, but…the door is open to having both [back],” he said. Read more »

Maclin, Cooper Set To Hit the Market

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Jeremy Maclin
‘s rehab is coming along well, he says. He is running now. The next step is being able to move side-to-side. He believes he’ll be able to participate in OTAs this spring. The question is: for what team?

Maclin is set to become a free agent. He has had preliminary discussions with the Eagles about his situation, but it’s no guarantee that he is back.

The 25-year-old was in line for a pretty nice pay day before tearing the ACL in his right knee during practice back in June. He planned on boosting his value by putting up big numbers in 2013 under Chip Kelly. Instead he has to build his value back up, and conceded that he might have to take a one-year prove-it deal depending on how the market shapes up.

“I’m a realist so I understand that’s a possibility,” he said. “Me and my agent, me and my team will kind of get together and talk about what’s best for me and what’s best for the whole situation and just go from there.” Read more »

Setting Up the Eagles’ Offseason

Riley Cooper

Riley Cooper. Photo | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Minutes after Chip Kelly watched Shayne Graham’s 32-yard field goal split the uprights with time expiring at Lincoln Financial Field, he stood before a roomful of reporters and was asked to reflect on what his team had accomplished in his first year as the Eagles’ head coach.

“You’re probably right that it’s probably a little too soon for that,” Kelly said. “I thought we were going to be a good team when I met these guys for the first time because I know how hard they worked and how hard they wanted to invest in this. And then I watched it first-hand – them come to work every day and really invest in this whole process. It’s just disappointing right now. But I don’t think us winning the division or getting to the playoffs was a surprise to us. I just think everybody is really disappointed that we’re not moving forward.” Read more »

Maclin To IR; Eagles Re-sign WR Nick Miller

The Eagles placed Jeremy Maclin on injured reserve Tuesday and re-signed receiver Nick Miller.

Maclin suffered a right ACL tear in practice on Saturday.

“It’s definitely going to hurt us, for sure,” said LeSean McCoy of Maclin’s loss. “If anybody tells you anything differently, they’re lying.”

Two days after Maclin’s injury, reserve linebacker Jason Phillips tore his ACL on the same field and was also lost for the season.

Miller was released by the Eagles on July 24 to make room for running back William Powell, who was promptly waived after failing his physical. The 5-9, 180-pound receiver out of Southern Utah has had two stints with the Raiders and one with the Rams, and saw action  as a kick and punt returner for both teams. He has four career catches for 48 yards in the NFL.

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What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Here’s this week’s roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles:

With Jeremy Maclin out, the pressure’s on DeSean Jackson, writes ESPN.com’s Ashley Fox:

With Maclin out, Jackson is going to have to be something he never has been before: a leader. He is an emotional player who in the past has not shown a willingness to fight through adversity. He tuned Reid out. Vick often had to act as a buffer to try to keep Jackson’s head in the game, but now it is not even a lock that Vick will be the starting quarterback.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland weighs in on the Maclin injury:

The Maclin injury is disappointing in a different way. The good news is that Maclin should be able to return from the injury for a second time; he tore his ACL before his freshman year at Missouri in 2006 and redshirted before posting a 1,055-yard season the following year. It’s distressing to see a player suffer the same injury to the same knee, but the previous injury happened seven years ago, so let’s hope that it doesn’t become a more chronic injury.

SI.com’s Peter King offers his thoughts on Maclin:

What’s most hurtful about Maclin’s being lost for the season with a torn ACL after collapsing at practice Saturday is that Eagles coach Chip Kelly needs the quickness and playmaking Maclin surely would have provided the offense. Now Kelly will have to find it in a far less experienced player like Riley Cooper. This increases the pressure on DeSean Jackson to be a home-run hitter. I remember talking to one NFL GM last fall about Kelly’s strengths. The GM said one of the reasons Kelly would be in such high demand in the NFL is because at Oregon he consistently took players other colleges didn’t want and turned them into high-functioning contributors in a fast-paced offense. I wouldn’t count out the Eagles. I just figure Kelly will use the summer to test two or three guys down the depth chart (Greg Salas, Cooper, Arrelious Benn) and find a way to make plays.

Rivers McCown of Football Outsiders/ESPN.com ranks teams based on 25-and-under talent. He’s got the Eagles at No. 23:

About the only two young players who didn’t plateau last season were Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. Cox turned in a promising season as a run-stopper, and Graham resurrected his career with 5.5 sacks and 26 hurries in a very limited role off the bench. The Eagles had a lot of other young players surface last season, but most of them didn’t play beyond replacement level. Bryce Brown made a strong run at looking like a promising young back, but he was hit and fumbled it.

Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders has Bryce Brown ranked sixth on his list of breakout players:

It has been a long and winding road to the NFL for Brown, who was the No. 1 running back prospect in the nation in high school but lost most of his college career to transfers and revoked scholarships. He needs to work on fumbling issues — he had four last year on just 115 carries — but we expect Chip Kelly to run the ball a lot in Philadelphia, which means playing time for Brown even if McCoy stays healthy all year.

Mike Tanier of SportsOnEarth.com says Donovan McNabb is a true Philly legend:

McNabb is a true Philly Legend, which is different from being a true legend. Philly Legends flirt with excellence early in their career, bringing the city within a boarding-school reach of a championship. Then they linger in the lineup for epochs as they slowly fade, accumulating the scorn and frustration of decades of sports disappointment like an old slice of wedding cake absorbing onion smells in the freezer. Every 25 years or so, a Philly Legend accidentally wins a championship, but it doesn’t change the narrative much: you aren’t a Philly Legend until the whole Delaware Valley is ready for you to go away. And then you come back.

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com has the Eagles 25th in his power rankings:

Chip Kelly’s camp will bring a lot of new things. Will it bring a new starting quarterback?

Robert Mays of Grantland names Evan Mathis as one of the 22 most under-appreciated players in the league:

Clearly, Mathis stands to gain from claiming that time at his gym led to the best physical condition of his life — but the results are there. His 2011 season was the best of his career by far. Along with the physical changes, Mathis’s time in Philadelphia came with an offensive-line education that outdid anything he’d gotten in his previous NFL stops. That season was the first in Philadelphia for offensive line coach Howard Mudd, a man who, at the time, had 38 years of experience teaching the art of the block. “I think I was able to make up for all of those lost years earlier in my career just by being able to learn from him,” Mathis says.

And in case you missed it from the Wake-Up Call, Kevin Clark of The Wall Street Journal :

As Kelly mans his first full week of NFL training camp, installing a high-revving Ferrari engine into the Eagles’ offense, league insiders say there are exactly zero indications NFL referees will be willing participants in the Kelly era. The NFL, they say, has a long-standing pace at which they do things between plays and the referees “aren’t going to change just to accommodate someone’s offense,” said Mike Pereira, a former NFL vice president of officiating who is now an analyst for Fox Sports.

“We have to make sure teams understand that they don’t control the tempo, our officials do,” said NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino. “We’re going through our normal ball mechanics, we aren’t going to rush [unless] it’s in the two minute drill.”

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Russell Shepard Riding High After Vick Endorsement

Michael Vick singled out Russell Shepard on Saturday, saying that out of all the young receivers on the roster, he is the one that has stood out the most.

Little did Vick know how much that would mean to the undrafted rookie out of LSU. Shepard played quarterback through high school. Guess who he tried to emulate on the field?

“My whole persona and way I played the football game was to be like Michael Vick,” said the Texas native following Sunday’s practice at the Linc.  ”For my idol, my favorite player of all time, my mentor to say some good things about me, words can’t explain the way that makes me feel.”

Shepard was actually recruited as a quarterback out of Cypress Ridge High School by Chip Kelly, but ultimately turned down Oregon to attend LSU. There he was tried out at QB, running back, and even safety, he said, but ultimately settled in at receiver. Still, he only totaled 20 catches over the final two seasons of his collegiate career.

“The receiver position I was very new to, so it took me a year or two to really get acclimated and used to playing it,” he said. “From catching the football to running routes. When I really started to catch my rhythm it was towards the back end of my senior year.”

According to Shepard, most NFL teams were looking at him as a defensive back. Kelly saw him as a receiver.

So far, Shepard looks the part. He has caught most of the balls thrown in his direction and has provided a couple highlights in the early stages of training camp, including a pretty grab on a deep ball from his idol during Saturday’s practice.

It appears that the extra work he is putting in is paying off. Taking his cues from Jason Avant, Shepard stays after practice each day to catch balls out of the jugs machine. He tries to catch an additional 100 balls every day. Though he’ll have to cut it short for a meeting on occasion, he does no less than 50.

Shepard’s prospects of making the team improved when Jeremy Maclin went down with a torn ACL.

“I look at it as, one of our guys went down, a mentor of mine, and I look forward to making him proud,” said the 6-1, 195-pound wideout. “Making him proud is being able to fill in until he comes back, catching footballs, being able to make plays. My thing is, I want to make Jeremy proud, and being able to make plays is the way I’ll do that.”

Shepard has been lining up primarily in the slot, but saw his first action on the outside on Sunday.

He’ll have a chance over the next several weeks to make his case for why the Eagles should keep him around. If he succeeds? Who knows, maybe he’ll be able to catch a pass from Vick in a regular season game.

Does Vick know he grew up idolizing him?

“I don’t know. I’ve never told him. I kind of get a little shy saying stuff life that,” said Shepard. “But at the same time, I told him to check out my quarterback highlights.”

Those highlights can be found below, Mike.

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Camp Notes: Maclin Revisits the Moment He Got Injured

Jeremy Maclin took us inside the moment when his season came suddenly to an end.

He had made it just a few steps off the line of scrimmage and said his foot “basically” got caught in the turf. He tried to go left, his right leg didn’t want him to, and he felt it pop before falling to the ground.

“I was devastated,” said Maclin, who addressed reporters in the Lincoln Financial Field tunnel Sunday. “It wasn’t the fact that it hurt, it was the fact that I knew what happened so I was emotional, knowing what was at stake. This is something that I love to do, I love to play football and knowing that I’m not going to be able to do that, knowing that I’m not going to be a part of this new era here in Philly this year. Hopefully I’ll be around for a few more years to come. I’m going to rehab, get stronger and be better than I was before.”

Dr. James Andrews is scheduled to perform the surgery on Maclin next Tuesday. The receiver plans on staying in Philadelphia to rehab.

Maclin tore this same ACL back in 2006 prior to his freshman season. He suffered the injury in the last week of July, had surgery in August and said he was running 40s by February. He went through spring ball without a brace, and caught 80 balls for over 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns in ’07.

While it may be theoretically possible that Maclin could return this year if the Eagles made it to the postseason,  he said that at this point of his career he has to make sure he is 100 percent before he re-takes the field. The 25-year-old is in the final year of his rookie contract. He was asked if he is second-guessing his decision to show up at camp without an extension.

“You can’t think like that, man. I think the minute you start doing that you start doubting yourself, and that’s not the type of person I am,” Maclin said.

New attendance record for Eagles

President Don Smolenski told reporters that 30,000 fans attended practice at the Linc Sunday. Even though that’s less than half of the amount of tickets that were reserved (the weather reports may have kept some people away), Smolenski said that is still a new record for number of fans at an Eagles practice.

“We thought today was a success. Seeing when we opened up the gates and the fans rush up the steps, the kids, the families, it was kind of a cool feeling,” he said. “I actually video-taped it with my I-Phone  because I wanted to capture it because it was a cool rush.”

The Eagles were in pads for the first time under Chip Kelly but did very little hitting. If fans were anticipating an Andy-Reid like level of physicality, they didn’t get it.

DeMeco Ryans was one player who didn’t mind. He said this is what camp was like in Houston, and noted the most important thing is to be as healthy and fresh as possible going into the season.

Injury Update

Todd Herremans did not finish practice after tweaking his knee. It is not serious, according to the Eagles. Antonio Dixon tweaked a hamstring and is day-to-day. No practice Sunday for Cary Williams (hamstring) or Arrelious Benn (knee).

McNabb/Vick have a moment

Donovan McNabb, who will officially announce his retirement tomorrow,  was in attendance for Alumni Day at the Linc. The ovation he received from the fans was only rivaled by the one they gave Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook. McNabb took his time going down the greeting line, and saved his biggest hug for Michael Vick. The two met up just outside the locker room following practice as well, and spent several minutes locked in a private conversation.

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Roseman Looking Internally To Fill Maclin Void

Will the Eagles look outside the organization to help fill the void created by the loss of Jeremy Maclin? Perhaps eventually. But for now, Howie Roseman seems to be searching in-house for answers.

“We have a lot of faith in our skill position players as a whole and that’s how we look at it. We’re not only looking at just our wide receiver group, we’re looking at the running backs, we look at the tight ends, and those are the guys we have high expectations for,” said Roseman. “That’s what camps for — the competition — and that’s why we brought in people to compete.

“We’re always going to explore options and see if there are ways to improve our roster, but right now we’re excited about some of the young guys we have at those positions we just talked about.”

Which young guys is Roseman specifically excited about? Interestingly, he named the tight end duo of James Casey and Zach Ertz first, then running backs Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. It sounds like the Eagles think Maclin’s production will not be filled by a specific receiver necessarily, but believe they can lean on other skill position players to help compensate for the loss. Tight ends and backs were going to be a featured part of this offense regardless.

As far as young receivers, Roseman mentioned Russell Shepard, Ifeanyi Momah and Damaris Johnson, who are in the mix with veterans Riley Cooper and Jason Avant. Cooper got the first-team reps in Maclin’s absence Saturday.

Arrelious Benn, another potential option, has been sidelined with a knee issue. Roseman said the team is not viewing it as a long-term injury.

Maclin suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during 7-on-7 drills at practice Saturday. There are no concrete plans for surgery yet, said Roseman, and a move to place him on injured reserve won’t come until the roster is trimmed to 75.

The 25-year-old receiver is in the final year of his rookie deal, making this injury a particularly difficult pill to swallow. Instead of holding out or creating a fuss, he showed up and planned on letting his play do the talking.

“You’re also talking about someone  in Jeremy who is extremely competitive and thinks that he can play at a higher level than he had been playing at,” said Roseman. “He also doesn’t want to short-sell himself, so that was also a concern. It’s always been very friendly talks with him and his agent Ben Dogra, and so this wasn’t a case where we didn’t want the player here or didn’t tell the player we like him. It’s unfortunate.”

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