How Maclin's return affects the WR situation

Jeremy Maclin has been cleared of lymphoma. (Clem Murray/Staff file photo)

We found out today what Jeremy Maclin has been dealing with this offseason.

Per Jay Glazer of, Maclin was being tested for lymphoma, but he was cleared today and does not have the form of cancer.

In the past five months, Maclin has suffered a variety of symptoms, the cause of which was an inflammatory virus.

Now, Maclin says he's fine and healthy. But just a week ago, doctors went through his belly to remove lymph nodes.

"I’m blessed by GOD," Maclin told Glazer. "Today was a sigh of relief. They’ll release me to play football but we have to wait a little more until I’m healed from the procedure last week.

"Man, I don’t wish this on anybody. I look back at my whole life, I’ve already gone through so much. I already appreciate where I am and appreciate the game of football. I can’t wait to get back out there and just resume my normal life."

First and foremost, this is great news that Maclin is OK. He just turned 23 in May, and I can only imagine how difficult the past several months have been for him.

From a football perspective, it's great news for the Eagles, who will get one of their weapons back. I explained earlier today how important he is to their offense.

The main question now is: When will Maclin be cleared to play, and where will he be from a physical standpoint when he does return?

Athletic trainer Rick Burkholder told reporters that Maclin should return to practice in the next 7-10 days, and he added that their goal is to have him ready for Week 1 against the Rams.

From a mental standpoint, Maclin knows the offense inside and out. Remember, he had 142 yards receiving in just his fourth NFL game ever as a rookie.

If Maclin is ready in Week 1, he, DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant are the top three receivers. If he's not, Riley Cooper will likely get additional snaps.

That's assuming, of course, that Steve Smith is not yet ready to go. Smith is currently on the PUP list as he rehabs from microfracture surgery.

"Listen, he wants to get out there right now," Andy Reid said when asked about Smith yesterday. "So we're just going to see where he's at and make sure that we evaluate him. We'll take it week-by-week and see how he does. He's ahead of schedule. Remember on his surgery, it's a little different than Brandon's [Graham] where he had no ligaments or really cartilage damage there, so it's a little different surgery. He had the microfracture on a very small spot so he's ahead of schedule with that whole thing. He didn't have a lot of swelling which is important in the recovery part."

It would be puzzling for the Eagles to place Smith on the in-season PUP list, considering he only signed a one-year deal. Such a designation would prohibit Smith from playing in the first six games.

But again, his status for the start of the season is up in the air at this point.

If Smith begins the season on the 53-man roster, that would give the Eagles five receivers. They could choose to add a sixth with Chad Hall or Johnnie Lee Higgins.

Whenever Smith is healthy, Reid and Marty Mornhinweg will have to figure out a way to get everyone on the field. That could mean more four-receiver sets and fewer snaps for LeSean McCoy or Brent Celek. Or it could mean more mixing and matching, based on specific situations.

But after the scare Maclin received in recent months, an overflow of healthy receivers is probably a problem the Eagles are looking forward to having.

Again, for my earlier post on what Maclin brings to the offense, click here.

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