If there were any pressure on Jeremy Maclin to return from the second torn anterior cruciate ligament of his career, it increased when the Eagles released DeSean Jackson last month.
While Maclin has never publicly put much weight on being the Eagles' No. 1 wide receiver, and coach Chip Kelly has dismissed the notion of having a pecking order in his offense, the 25-year-old has clearly become the team's top receiver.
Kelly has a variety of options to help supplement what was lost when Jackson was jettisoned. But Maclin, who played in the now-Redskins receiver's shadow for most of his career, will be most responsible for running Jackson's old routes.
"I'm going to do the best thing that Jeremy Maclin can do, and that's to try and be the total package," Maclin said on Thursday after working out with the rest of the Eagles at the NovaCare Complex. "As far as trying to replace somebody . . . I'm not here to replace anybody. There is nobody to replace."
Still, Jackson caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns and was one of four receivers in the NFL to catch as many balls and average more than 16.2 yards per reception in 2013.
"I think we'll be fine, man," Maclin said. "Obviously, DeSean's one of the better playmakers in this league, but we're moving forward."
Maclin, who missed all of last season after he tore the ACL in his right knee in training camp, has never caught more 70 passes and topped 964 receiving yards in his career. But he's also never played in Kelly's offense, which helped Jackson set career marks last season.
"Chip said it himself: The offense is not built around one guy," Maclin said. "We have multiple guys that go out there and make plays."
Riley Cooper, who took over Maclin's starting spot last year, caught 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek snared 36 and 32 throws, respectively. Running back LeSean McCoy was second on the team with 52 receptions. And the Eagles added multifaceted tailback Darren Sproles in the offseason.
But they also lost slot receiver Jason Avant. Maclin noted the importance of having two dependable outside receivers and said the Eagles had them with him and Cooper. But both have something to prove - Maclin that his knee is healthy and Cooper that last season wasn't a fluke.
"You want two in this league," Maclin said. "I think when you have two, you have a much better chance of being successful. I think teams that have one guy, those teams normally aren't as good."
Many expect the Eagles to select one or even two receivers in what is being called the deepest receiver draft in years.
Maclin, who first tore his ACL in college, said that he has been able to fully participate in voluntary workouts this week. He said he ran routes and caught passes from Nick Foles on Thursday. Next month's practices will be a different story.
Maclin said the team will hold him back some, but he insisted he could fully partake if it were training camp. He also said that he doesn't plan on wearing a knee brace.
As for Jackson, Maclin said he hasn't spoken with his former teammate since he was waived. There have been questions about their relationship and whether it soured. Asked about it, Maclin said: "Our relationship is our relationship. It doesn't need to be shared with anyone else."
Mathis in tow
As reported Monday, Evan Mathis attended the Eagles' first week of workouts, even though there have been reports that the guard wanted a new contract.
"As you can see," Mathis said Thursday, "I'm here."
Mathis signed a five-year, $25 million contract in 2012, but the all pro will enter next season as only the 14th-highest paid guard in the league.
"No talks about my contract have come from myself, my agent, or the Eagles, and it will probably continue to be that way," Mathis said before he kiddingly referenced the infamous Terrell Owens incident of 2005: "If I was going to answer questions about the contract I'd prefer to do it in the comfort of my driveway as I did sit-ups."
Mathis approached the Eagles about a new deal in February, according to NFL sources, but the team suggested he seek a trade. No teams bit, and he is expected to stay in Philly.