Sources close to the top of the Eagles' chain have expressed continued concern with the health of WR Jeremy Maclin, who remains sidelined with an undisclosed ailment. Neither the team nor Maclin has commented in any depth about the nature of the illness, but it's considered serious enough that Maclin flew home to visit doctors in St. Louis after having had a battery of tests run on him in Philadelphia-area hospitals.
When asked how serious Maclin's health status was this week, one well-placed team source said: "We really hope he will be OK."
Maclin appeared poised for his best season ever at age 23, having grown in each of his first two seasons. Now, the hope is that he's able to overcome this illness, although head coach Andy Reid said he is optimistic that Maclin could be ready by Week One.
"I think he's going to be ready," Reid said. "I guess I'm optimistic. I'm waiting to hear the (test) results (from St. Louis), but I'm optimistic."
Many people's concern grew when the Eagles shockingly swooped in and stole free-agent WR Steve Smith from the rival Giants. Few had connected Smith to the Eagles because they appeared stout and deep at receiver with DeSean Jackson, Maclin, Jason Avant and the budding Riley Cooper. So the immediate assumption of many was that the Smith signing portended a bad prognosis for Maclin.
Not so, the Eagles source said.
"(There is) no correlation," he said. "Smith is not immediately available, either."
Indeed, Smith is coming off microfracture surgery, which was one of the bigger reasons why he had not yet re-signed with the Giants. A healthy Smith never would have hit the open market or been allowed to leave; he made the Pro Bowl in 2009 with a Giants-record 107 receptions and was Eli Manning's security blanket in the slot.
Now Smith is an Eagle, and when he is ready to hit the field — although Smith said he holds out hope for Week One, we hear Week Six is more likely — the Eagles will have two of the best in the slot with Smith and Avant and could feature an almost incomparable passing attack if you throw in the tight ends and RBs LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown.