FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - There's a lot of focus on Jeremy Maclin as the Eagles' No. 1 receiver, in the wake of DeSean Jackson's departure. That was why reporters watched Maclin's matchup Tuesday with Darrelle Revis so intently. Eagles coach Chip Kelly Wednesday praised Maclin's Tuesday work, but Kelly hinted that there are barriers to cross yet before Maclin is where he and the team want him to be this season.
Kelly's words were underscored when Maclin left Wednesday's practice with what Maclin said was a minor hamstring problem, suffered during a play in which he caught a long Nick Foles touchdown pass.
"I thought Mac did a nice job yesterday. It's just a matter with Mac of just getting more comfortable, getting out there. You can tell he's running around and doing those things, but you're not instantly, 'hey I got it back to where I was before,' it's still getting a little bit more familiar with it, more comfortable with what we're doing," Kelly said as the Eagles and Patriots prepared for a soggy morning practice on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. Practice was moved up from the afternoon in hopes of avoiding drenching rain that was forecast. "Even though he was in the building every day (last year), he was rehabbing, so he wasn't on the field or working with us from a scheme standpoint. He may have confidence in his leg, but he's still trying to make sure he acclimates everything he's trying to do from an offensive standpoint ... every day I think he's going to get a little bit better and better. I thought he had a good day yesterday."
After practice, most of which he watched from the sideline, Maclin said: "My left hamstring just kinda grabbed on me a little bit, so I shut it down ... It feels all right, so I'm just going to treat it and go from there."
Maclin said he hopes to play in Friday's Eagles-Pats preseason game.
"It shouldn't be a big deal," said Maclin, who acknowledged he was visibly frustrated as he came to the sideline.
Kelly said he first met Bill Belichick when Kelly was the New Hampshire offensive coordinator and would come down to Patriots camp with other college coaches to watch the Pats work. "He's always been really gracious to the local college coaches, great with his time," Kelly said.
Kelly was not in a mood to discuss his New England roots, how he felt coming back to his native region, though local reporters tried hard to glean something.
"We're here to kind of go to work ... a couple former players of mine at New Hampshire I saw yesterday at practice, so that part was good, but it's really a business trip for us, getting ready to prepare against a really good team, giving ourselves an opoortunity to test ourselves against an outstanding opponent," Kelly said.
Kelly agreed that 6-7 sideout Ifeanyi Momah, vastly improved from last year, needs to be able to contribute on special teams to earn a spot on the roster, but Kelly said Momah is playing on the kickoff return team and is improving in that facet, as well as receiving.
"There's a couple places (on special teams) where his size can be advantageous to us," Kelly said. "That's the battle for all those guys; if you're not in the one, two and three at the wide receiver spot, you've got to be a great special teams player. Evidence of that is what Brad (Smith) did when he came in here last year. I think we got Brad Week 11, and before he even sat foot on the field as a receiver, he made an instant mark for himself as a special teams player for us."
Kelly added that Momah has improved by "leaps and bounds... I'm really happy with where he is right now."