PHILADELPHIA — Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin leaned on crutches Sunday and stood next to Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra while watching practice from the sideline at Lincoln Financial Field.
Maclin will undergo surgery Tuesday, Aug. 6, to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that he suffered during Saturday’s practice at the NovaCare Complex.
“I highly doubt if I will be able to play this season,” Maclin said. “It’s devastating.”
Maclin, 25, was excited about the prospect of playing in new coach Chip Kelly’s offense this season.
The 6-foot, 198-pounder led the team with 69 receptions for 864 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012. Given his knack for running precise intermediate routes and sure hands, he was expected to play a major role in the attack.
That ended when he crumpled to the turf Saturday during seven-on- seven drills and draped a towel over his face as he was carted off the field.
“I thought I had the ability to really shine in his offense because of my skill set,” Maclin said. “It’s something different, something new and I was really looking forward to it. It sucks that I won’t be able to be a part of that now.”
The injury will also hurt Maclin’s chances of landing a big contract for next year.
He was entering the final year of the five-year deal he signed as the Eagles’ first-round draft pick in 2009. Rather than hold out of training camp in search of an extension, he reported on time Thursday and was willing to play out the season in hopes of impressing the Eagles and the rest of the NFL.
“I can’t think about (what would have happened if he had held out),” Maclin said. “Every player in the NFL knows that they can get hurt at any given time. When you play this game, you put your body on the line on every play.”
Maclin said the fact that he had suffered a torn ACL once before — he tore the same one as a freshman at the University of Missouri in 2006 — would help him both physically and emotionally.
Rather than sulk and conduct his rehab in private, he wants to serve as an adviser to the younger wide receivers this season and come back in 2014.
“Having gone through this before, I feel like I have the right mental approach to this,” Maclin said. “I want to try and come back stronger than I was before. But I also intend to be around the team as much as possible. It’s going to be up to some of the young guys to step up, and I want to help.”
The Eagles aren’t in any big hurry to replace Maclin from outside sources.
Rather sign an aging free agent such as Randy Moss or — gasp — Terrell Owens, general manager Howie Roseman indicated Sunday that they are more likely to examine current players at both wide receiver and other positions.
“You always explore options,” Roseman said before the Eagles’ public practice at Lincoln Financial Field. “But right now, we’re excited about some of the young guys that we have and we’ll go from there.
“We have a lot of tape on the skill position group as a whole — that’s kind of how we look at it. We’re not only looking at just the wide receiver group, we look at the running back group, we look at the tight end group. Those are the guys we have high hopes and expectations for, and that’s what camp is for, the competition, and that’s why we brought in people to compete.”
Without Maclin, the Eagles will turn to DeSean Jackson and other wide receivers such as Riley Cooper, Arrelious Benn, Damaris Johnson, Jason Avant and possibly Ifeynai Momah as well as rookie free agent Russell Sheppard. But the offense will also center around tight ends James Casey, Brent Celek and rookie Zach Ertz, who was drafted in the second round, in addition to running backs LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and maybe Felix Jones.
Cooper, who missed most of training camp last year with a broken collarbone, came back to enjoy a solid season that included a career-high 23 receptions for 248 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-3, 222-pounder emerged as one of quarterback Nick Foles’ top receivers at the end of the season.
“I feel like I made progress the last five or six games last season,” Cooper said Sunday. “Obviously, this is a new system and new coaching staff, but I want to continue what I did last year. It’s all about doing all that you can and making catches when the opportunity comes. That’s what I always try to do.”
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