Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick rolled to his left during Monday's practice at the NovaCare Complex and began to scan the field for an open receiver.
Just before running out of bounds, he stopped, planted his left foot, threw across his body and lofted a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Riley Cooper on the other side of the field.
That duo could play a big role in the Eagles' offense this season. The Eagles placed wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on injured reserve Tuesday, three days after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Maclin, who was the team's leading receiver last season, is scheduled to undergo surgery next week and will miss the entire season.
That means the Eagles will need other players to step up their games to fill the void of losing such a valuable player.
Cooper, who is entering his fourth season, will get the first crack at replacing Maclin in the starting lineup.
"It's an opportunity for him to kind of step up in a more expanded role," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said Monday. "But it's not like he wasn't going to have a big role in our offense, anyway. This is not a case where all of a sudden 'Mac' is not here, so lets start looking at what Riley has been doing. I've been watching Riley since I got here in January.
"He's a big (6-foot-3, 222 pounds), physical player and one of his attributes is that his size is a weapon for him. He catches the ball really well, he's an outstanding blocker, and he's another guy that lives and breathes football. He's here all the time."
Cooper, a fifth-round draft pick in 2010, missed the first five games last season after breaking his collarbone during training camp, but still finished with a career-best 23 receptions for 248 yards and three touchdowns.
He formed a nice rapport with Nick Foles - who is battling Vick and rookie Matt Barkley for the starting job - at the end of last season, catching 13 passes for 138 yards and a TD in the final five games.
The former University of Florida standout - he was Tim Tebow's roommate in college and remains among his good friends - now has to focus on learning and mastering Kelly's offense and not give in to the pressure of replacing Maclin.
"I feel like I made progress at the end of last year, but I still have to play Riley Cooper's game," Cooper said after Sunday's open practice at Lincoln Financial Field. "I'm not Jeremy Maclin by any means. Jeremy and I have different styles of play, but I am absolutely confident in my game. I especially enjoy blocking. I feel like that's one of the strongest parts of my game. If they need someone who's big, strong, and plays as hard as he can, this is the offense for me."
Other wide receivers will also get opportunities to earn playing time with former Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson and reliable slot receiver Jason Avant. In addition to Cooper, the cast of contenders includes Arrelious Benn, Damaris Johnson, Ifeanyi Momah and Russell Shepard III.
"We're going to find a way to make do with what we have," Avant told the Eagles' website Monday. "And push some guys in some positions to help our team win."
Benn has enough talent that the Eagles acquired him in an offseason trade with Tampa Bay. But he had trouble staying healthy with the Buccaneers. He played in only eight games last season due to knee and shoulder problems and has been sidelined since the first day of training camp this summer with a strained hamstring.
Johnson, who was the Eagles' primary punt returner last season, added 19 receptions for 256 yards as a rookie free agent. Momah, 6-7 and 239 pounds, has missed the last two seasons with knee injuries suffered at Boston College. Shepard, an undrafted rookie out of Louisiana State University, has been among the early camp standouts.
Shepard told the team's web site that his biggest challenge has been trying not to be starstruck. Vick was his favorite player growing up and he was so excited to catch a pass from him during Saturday's practice that he called his father.
"I went in and called my dad," Shepard said. "To play among all these guys is a dream come true, but to have somebody like Vick mentor you, teach you the game, words can't explain how that makes me feel. For my favorite player of all time to mention my name, it's a humbling experience."
Both Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman have also mentioned using players at other positions to make up for Maclin's injury. Running backs LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and possibly Felix Jones will be prominent in the offense. Tight ends James Casey, Brent Celek, rookie Zach Ertz and possibly Clay Harbor will also have major roles.
Kelly likes to use multiple tight-end sets, which means more opportunities for them.
"There are a lot of guys who can make plays on this team," Ertz, a second-round draft pick, said Sunday. "It hurts to lose a great player like Jeremy Maclin, but the next guy needs to step up, and I think the tight ends will be part of that, too."
EXTRA POINT: The Eagles filled Maclin's roster spot by re-signing wide receiver Nick Miller Tuesday. Miller, who played for Oakland and St. Louis in 2009-11 - he was the Raiders' punt returner in 2010 - was originally released last Wednesday.
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