The Philadelphia Eagles wide receiving corps, which was thought to be a strength for the team coming into the season, may be severely depleted going into Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. Jeremy Maclin suffered a hip pointer injury against the Cleveland Browns in week 1 and the team is taking a wait and see approach as to whether or not he will play against the Ravens. Now, DeSean Jackson is being listed as questionable due to a hamstring injury suffered during practice earlier in the week. The result could be two of the Eagles most explosive weapons watching from the sidelines as their team plays one of the strongest defenses in the entirety of the NFL.
If Maclin and Jackson can’t go on Sunday, that would leave Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Mardy Gilyard and Riley Cooper as the 4 receivers that will suit up. Even though the Birds have two competent pass catching tight ends in Brent Celek and Clay Harbor, the group of receivers will be severely downgraded with the absence of its two stars.
One bright spot in this entire situation is the fact that if the team’s top two receivers can’t go, it may force head coach Andy Reid to put an emphasis on running the ball with Pro-Bowler LeSean McCoy. McCoy has emerged as one of the top backs in the league, despite the Eagles refusal to put any sustained focus on their rushing attack. McCoy is as good of a receiver out of the backfield as he is taking a handoff, which opens up myriad opportunities for the offense. His pass catching ability is important because it forces the defense to respect his potential as a pass catcher and provides some breathing room for the running game.
McCoy had a decent, but far from spectacular outing in week 1 against Cleveland. He rushed 20 times for 110 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and caught 6 passes for 26 yards. He was held out of the end zone and also fumbled once.
If the Eagles are to have any hope of competing with Baltimore while missing their top 2 receivers, McCoy must be the focal point of the offense on Sunday, whether he is taking handoffs or catching passes out of the backfield.