Beginning the first training camp under new head coach Chip Kelly, excitement was high for the Philadelphia Eagles and believe it or not, expectations were too. The new spread offense in town, new beginning of a hybrid defense and starting quarterback competition were all part of the intensity of trying to turn things around from a miserable 4-12 season. Instantly, the excitement and fervor of a new season and great expectations took a back seat to the biggest story to hit Eagles training camp.
On Saturday, during a non-contact drill, star wide receiver Jeremy Maclin tore his ACL, ending his season and taking the air quickly out of the upbeat Philadelphia training camp. There are plenty of receivers on the Eagles roster, but none of them will be Maclin. The injury to Maclin has in turn averted the attention from some of the major stories occurring at camp due to the effect it could have on the outcome of the Eagles season. Maclin was primed to have an All-Pro season under coach Kelly with a new high tempo offense that would fit his style and spotlight his attributes. That ship has sailed, but now, the injury has become the main story of an Eagles camp that has many questions still to be answered.
At the forefront, the injury has taken from the quarterback competition which continues to heat up with both Michael Vick and Nick Foles splitting first-team reps. Coach Kelly insists that he would rather have a decision sooner rather than later, but expects that nothing will be determined until after a preseason game has occurred.
Receivers Damaris Johnson and rookie Russell Shepard are both having outstanding camps, providing difficult decisions when it comes to replacing Maclin. They will now be thrust into the spotlight once the story of Maclin’s injury fades. For now, the Eagles will deal with the questions about replacing a starting wide receiver and how it will affect their offense long term, instead of focusing on determining the things that can still be controlled on the field.
Unfortunately, the longer the Eagles dwell on the injury to their star wide receiver, the more damage they will do to developing the team they will assemble on the field. Putting Maclin in the rear view mirror for 2013 is the best thing they can do to focus on the success of the team now.