fThe preseason is not even here yet, but the Philadelphia Eagles are already playing a man down as star wide receiver Jeremy Maclin tore his ACL early on in training camp. Since being drafted in 2009 by the Eagles, he has been a key member for the team, and just last season, he led the squad in receptions, yards and touchdowns making him the top ranked Eagle in Fantasy Football.
As devastating as the blow is for Philadelphia, they must move on and begin working on ways to replace him right away. He will hit free agency after this season, so there might be a chance he never plays another down for Philadelphia. So how will the make up the production in 2013?
New head coach Chip Kelly has always been big on utilizing tight ends as receivers, so expect Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and James Casey to get a lot of repetitions during the preseason. None of the three have ever been huge threats on offense, so expect them to all get trials to see who is capable of being a go-to receiver. Ertz is probably the most versatile, but Casey was brought in specifically by Kelly through free agency to fit his offense.
A bounce back season for DeSean Jackson could also certainly help the Eagles, and he might have more motivation than ever to return to that 2009 and 2010 level. Last season, he caught just two touchdown passes while picking up 700 yards. The Eagles didn’t give him a five-year, $51 million contract for that type of production. If he can mesh with Riley Cooper, who will see his role increase as well, Maclin’s production could be somewhat replaced.
Finally, the Eagles could always decide to just run the ball more frequently. LeSean McCoy is one of the best in the game, and he has Bryce Brown and Felix Jones to back him up as well. All three are dynamic playmakers, and they are capable receivers out of the backfield as well.
Replacing Maclin is going to be tough, and it seems unlikely that any one player will be able to. However, collectively, the Eagles could cover him production if a few guys are able to step up.