One of the biggest questions surrounding the Eagles this training camp has been the status of third year receiver Jeremy Maclin as he continues to battle an illness.
Jeremy Maclin has yet to step on the practice field this training camp while fighting an illness that has yet to be disclosed. After Thursday it is unclear when the third year receiver will return to the field after he left the team to undergo further tests in St. Louis Missouri. To date, it’s unclear if Maclin, his doctors or the Eagles have been able to diagnose what is ailing him.
Maclin’s family still remains in Kirkwood MO where he resides in the off-season. His father Jeff Parres is an urologist in the area with strong ties to the St. Louis medical community.
The Eagles have been less than forthright about the nature of Maclin’s illness which has led to increased speculation not only about his possible return, but also his general well being. Maclin had been battling what is believed to be Mononucleosis earlier this spring and said he lost close to 15 pounds. Nevertheless he participated in informal team workouts in South Jersey this spring but reported late to training camp noticeably lighter. When Maclin finally arrived at camp he spent several days working on his conditioning on the side with the Eagles training staff.
Despite the questions surrounding his sickness, Maclin was in camp for more than a week, which makes his leaving the team suddenly on Thursday all the more troubling.
With each passing day without a definitive diagnosis the more likely it seems that Maclin will not be ready to go by the time the season opener rolls around on September 11th in St. Louis. Perhaps coincidentally and maybe as an insurance option, the Eagles signed former Giants receiver Steve Smith who is two years removed from a 107 catch season and a Pro Bowl appearance in 2009. Smith played just nine games last season before undergoing microfracture surgery in December.
Smith’s signing is conspicuous on several fronts. At face value the motivation appears to be ensuring a viable replacement for Maclin should he miss extended time. A team source denied this on Thursday night. Further, Giants team doctors reportedly were skeptical that Smith would be ready before the middle of the season. Yet the Eagles saw enough in Smith to not only sign him to a deal that could be worth up to $4 million in incentives with $2 million guaranteed, but also push his target return date to week three, against the Giants.
Whether or not the Eagles signing of Smith is related to Maclin’s situation is not the issue. The mere perception of such when paired with the continued uncertainty surrounding Maclin’s prognosis leaves enough anonymity to read between the lines that it could be awhile before number 18 returns to full football activities.
Following Thursday night’s 13-6 Eagles win over the Ravens, quarterback Michael Vick was asked about Maclin’s status and stated “We’re just going to put Jeremy’s situation in the hands of God.” But went on to say that he hopes to have Maclin back by the end of the year. Meanwhile tight end Brent Celek was more optimistic saying that he isn’t a doctor but that he expected Maclin to be back soon enough.
Matt Lombardo is a reporter and host for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ. Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoPHL