PHILADELPHIA — Like everyone else, Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin doesn’t know why coach Chip Kelly and the Eagles decided to release wide receiver DeSean Jackson earlier this month.
But Maclin refuted the notion that Jackson’s departure was meant to serve as a wakeup call to the rest of the team.
“I don’t think they release a guy to send a message,” Maclin said Thursday after a workout at the NovaCare Complex. “This isn’t high school. This is a business and (players getting released) is a part of the game. Stuff like that happens each and every year.
“You just have to deal with it. Obviously, DeSean is one of the better playmakers in the league, but we’re moving forward, and I think we’ll be fine. I have faith in this offense, and I have faith in this locker room. As Chip always says, this offense is not built around one guy.”
Maclin, who missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, will be one of the players expected to make up for the loss of Jackson and veteran wide receiver Jason Avant, who was also released. Jackson is now with Washington while Avant signed with Carolina.
The Eagles will be missing both players for different reasons. Jackson, the Eagles’ leading receiver last season with 82 catches, is regarded as one of the NFL’s most dynamic players. Avant was regarded as one of the team’s strongest leaders.
“The one thing I can say about Jason Avant is that no one outworked him,” Maclin said. “Some people may have worked as hard as him, but no one worked harder, and that was one thing I really respected about him. When younger players would come in, they would see how things are done at this level, and I’m going to try to do that for the younger players now.”
He was supposed to be a key player for the Eagles last season, but wound up sitting out the entire year after tearing his ACL during a non-contract drill at training camp on July 27.
Still, the Eagles decided to re-sign the 25-year-old to a one-year, $5.5 million contract in February rather than let him enter free agency.
“You saw his potential last spring and summer, but obviously he didn’t get an opportunity last year,” Kelly said in a statement in February. “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, the Eagles’ first-round draft pick in 2009, said Thursday he has been medically cleared to participate in this week’s voluntary workouts and doesn’t expect to have any limitations during the upcoming minicamps, organized team activities and training camp.
When healthy, he has been one of the Eagles’ most productive receivers. His 258 receptions from 2009-12 were the most by an Eagles player in his first four seasons. The 6-foot, 198-pounder had his best season in 2010, when he caught 70 passes for 964 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2012, he led the team with 69 catches for 857 yards and seven TDs.
This season, Maclin and Riley Cooper are expected to be the starters as part of an unproven cast of receivers that includes Arrelious Benn, Damaris Johnson, Jeff Maehl and Brad Smith. Like Maclin, Benn missed all of last season with a torn ACL.
There has also been speculation that the Eagles will select at least one wide receiver in next month’s draft.
“Whatever makes our team better, I’m all for it,” Maclin said. “For me, I’m looking forward to just getting out there and playing football again.
“I don’t know how I’m going to be used this season, and I’m not worried about it. I’m just going to be the best Jeremy Maclin I can be and help this team win. I’m not worried about replacing anybody.”
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