First year head coach Chip Kelly has suffered a tremendous loss in the first week of training camp. As wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was coming off the line during Saturday’s practice, his knee buckled forcing him to be carted off the field, obviously in tears.
Tears of pain I’m sure as the diagnosis is he suffered a torn ACL. But the tears were likely combined with frustration and self disappointment.
Maclin was ready for this camp, excited for the up-tempo offense Chip Kelly plans to instill. He was ready to have an extremely productive season to cash in on a contract extension once the season was through. More importantly, Maclin was excited to help correct, and be a part of a team, that expects to be better than in previous years.
Losing Maclin is a huge, huge, loss to the Eagles organization. He became just the eighth player in NFL history to record at least 55 catches and 750 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons. And he’s become the Eagles most reliable receiver in the red zone posting 16 of his 24 career touchdowns there.
So, where does Philadelphia go from here? Let’s mull over the option Chip Kelly has internally and externally. Yes, this will include the ridiculousness of the T.O. rumor.
Top Candidates: Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Arrelious Benn, Ifeanyi Momah
Many fans would also include Damaris Johnson as a top candidate due to his speed. But in Chip Kelly’s offense, there’s only room for one smaller receiver on the field and that’s DeSean Jackson. Kelly’s own words were “bigger guys beat up smaller guys” right? You can pretty much take Johnson out of the starting equation.
Of the four names listed above, basing my decision on Kelly’s words about bigger guys, his ideal options would come down to Riley Cooper and Ifeanyi Momah. But let me first explain why I’m not going with Avant or Benn.
Avant is the sure-handed veteran on the roster. He’s made a living playing over the middle in the slot position and he’s been productive in doing so. But there has been instances where former head coach Andy Reid needed Avant on the outside and he (Avant) just didn’t stack up against the competition. He made some plays but not nearly as consistent as he needed to be.
Benn on the other hand is a former second-round pick who, when healthy, can be a true weapon on the field. But that’s just it, his history of knee injuries is to much to justify saying he can be the starter. To make matters worse for Benn, he just recently left practice a few days ago with a left knee injury. So in Benn’s case, he’s fighting for a roster spot let alone in the starting mix.
Now lets look at both Cooper and Momah, the top two candidates in my opinion.
Riley Cooper’s 2012 playing time could prove to be extremely important to Chip Kelly. Now that Cooper has a taste of being a starter in the league, combined with Kelly’s energetic mentality, his youth and size might be more than enough to hand the job over to Cooper if he fares well during training camp. We’ve all witnessed some acrobatic receptions from Cooper much like his 40-yard bomb during his rookie season. For Cooper, it’s a matter of being more consistent, and running with the one’s in camp should provide him quite the opportunity to impress the new coaching staff.
Infeanyi Momah has to be the most intriguing to Chip Kelly. A 6-7, 239 receiver who can run a 4.40?
Are you kidding me?
I’m going to go as far as to say I think Momah has everyone’s attention right now in Philadelphia, and if he doesn’t, he should.
Momah is to Chip Kelly as peppermint is to patty, meaning, if Momah can stay healthy through training camp and get his share of reps, and maximize on those repetitions, I would not be surprised at all if Momah would be named the starter. Momah would be Philadelphia’s version of megatron from a size and advantage standpoint.
I know there aren’t many out there who will agree with me on Momah’s potential, and that is warranted. But you have to keep in mind that this entire camp is basically an open competition with the exception of just a few positions. Any player that wants it bad enough, and can prove it through productivity, has a chance.
I want to throw one more curveball your way. We should not exclude seeing TE/FB/whatever James Casey from this equation. It also would not surprise me to see Casey line up as a fullback or tight end and be split out wide. Or just put in the outside receiver position in the lineup.
Again, remember, Nobody knows what to expect from Kelly’s new offense and what creations he can come up with.
Honestly, and this is just my opinion, I think Chip Kelly will opt to see what he has already on the roster before making a rash decision like going out and signing one of the remaining free agents.
And this is especially true in regards to a potential return of Terrell Owens. Who in their right mind?
Alright listen, although anything is technically possible, do you truly believe for a second that Chip Kelly is going to risk his reputation on a guy that’s been a locker room cancer in literally every team he has been a part of?
I don’t know where the rumor started from but whoever started it was clearly either looking for the fan reaction or just doesn’t have a clue. Now watch, since I said that, Kelly will sign him (my luck).
But there are a few players out there who could come in and compete. Players like Austin Collie, Brandon Banks, Dion Branch. But none of them are a clear upgrade from what the Eagles already have on their roster.
Chip Kelly predicates an offense built on size and the utilization of tight ends. Would Kelly love nothing more than to have a healthy Maclin on the field? You bet. But with the remaining options he has internally to help in filling the void left by Maclin’s injury, Kelly won’t go spending more money on a one-year contract. He believes he has the tools to compete and has taken injuries into account from a depth standpoint.