Jeremy Maclin was supposed to be huge last year in Chip Kelly’s offense, but a knee injury scuttled those plans. Now Maclin’s back, and with no DeSean Jackson expectations remain high. So it’s a bit disconcerting that Maclin has missed three of the past four practices with soreness in his knee. Maclin indicated that it’s all part of the process and that he could have practiced if this weren’t early August, but it’s a situation worth keeping tabs on.
Speaking of Philly receivers, Riley Cooper also remained sidelined with a foot injury. While Cooper sports a walking boot, rookie Jordan Matthews continues to get extended work with the first team. Matthews is a popular sleeper wideout, expected to secure at minimum the WR3 role in Kelly’s high-octane offense. And with both Maclin and Cooper already dinged, there’s considerable upside to that role.
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Bears WR Marquess Wilson underwent surgery on his fractured clavicle Tuesday. While the likes of Eric Weems and Chris Williams saw reps in Wilson’s role, the expectation is that TE Martellus Bennett will remain Jay Cutler’s third most popular target, after twin tower receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. We might not know for sure based on the first preseason game, however, as Bennett has been suspended indefinitely for body-slamming rookie Kyle Fuller during a practice session altercation.
Usually talk of the “rookie wall” doesn’t surface until midseason, but Lions TE Eric Ebron says he’s already scaling it. Or maybe scaled it, past tense, as Ebron noted that he thinks he’s turned the corner and is just playing rather than having to think about what he’s doing. Detroit coach Jim Caldwell noted that Ebron is essentially learning four different positions as a receiver, but that he’s getting better every day. First-round tight ends have a history of struggling as rookies, but if Ebron truly is over the rookie wall the sky’s the limit as Calvin Johnson’s wingman in an offense supervised by Joe Lombardi, who worked with Jimmy Graham in New Orleans.
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The Packers are still looking for a tight end to pick up the slack left by Jermichael Finley’s departure; for the immediate future, at least, that tight end won’t be talented but troubled rookie Colt Lyerla. Lyerla suffered a knee injury during Saturday’s scrimmage, and coach Mike McCarthy indicated he would be out “weeks”. It’s possible the Pack will carry him through the preseason and put him on IR, but the more immediate need is for Brandon Bostick, Richard Rodgers, or someone else to step up and replace Finley. Or maybe Finley himself could return, assuming he gets the necessary medical clearance.
Finally, a day after inking quarterback Andy Dalton long-term the Bengals are turning their attention to wideout AJ Green. Makes sense to keep the duo together, though Cincy has a little more time with Green than they did with the former free agent-to-be Dalton. And after securing a club-friendly deal with Dalton, the Bengals may need to stretch the budget a bit more for Green, who is a little more highly regarded around the league.