On a wet but busy Saturday at the NovaCare complex, wideouts Jeremy Maclin and Steve Smith practiced for the first time this preseason.
Maclin's return was expected, after a week of working on his own following medical clearance from a persistent viral illness. Smith, coming back from microfracture knee surgery, was more of a suprise. Smith had to come off the physically unable to perform list in order to practice, and can't go back on; the Eagles will not get a six-week roster exemption for him now. But obviously, they feel he will be able to pklay sometime in that six-week period, if not in the Sept. 11 opener at St. Louis.
Maclin is targeting the opener, in his hometown. "There is no doubt about that, yeah," he said.
"I feel all right conditioningwise, it's just with being out there running routes, I haven't done that in a while, so there's definitely some work I need to do ... I think I'll get back to my normal self pretty soon."
Eagles coach Andy Reid said he wants to see how Maclin and Smith feel in the afetmath of practicing before setting any goals on when they will play.
When the Giants deferred a decision on re-signing Smith, leading to him reaching accord with the Eagles, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he felt Smith was four-to-six weeks away from practicing. Smith actually practiced in about 3 1/2 weeks.
"It was great just to be out there with my teammates and hearing the calls from Vick. It was really fun," Smith said. He added that he was not surprised to be able to practice this soon. "I was pretty ahead of schedule ... It's going to be a test when I'm in press coverage and someone is pushing against me."
Smith was asked if he expects to be able to play Week 1.
"I think I'll be able to," he said. "It's up to what the coaches and trainers want me to do. I'm feeling good, and as long as we have no setbacks, that's what I'm shooting for."