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Maclin's Knee Injury Raises Questions About Wide Receivers

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 27 : DeSean Jackson #10 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates with teammates Jeremy Maclin #18 and Jason Avant #81 after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter againt the Denver Broncos at Lincoln Financial Field on December 27, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

    At the end of practice today, Jeremy Maclin suffered a left knee injury and had to be carted off the field into the locker room. At the moment, word out of Lehigh is that Maclin's knee is only hyper-extended, not anything more serious like a ligament tear.

    Assuming the news stays good, this shouldn't be too catastrophic. Similar injuries typically require two to four weeks of rest. DeSean Jackson hyper-extended his right knee a year ago this week, and he was fine well before the season began.

    However, the injury does raise questions about the depth of the wide receiver corps. With Maclin out and Jackson not practicing recently due to some back concerns, we'll see how the Eagles move players around to compensate.

    Jason Avant is one of the best slot receivers in the league, due to his great hands, precise route-running, and fearlessness across the middle. But he doesn't necessarily have the speed to beat cornerbacks on the outside.

    Hank Baskett has the most experience and was brought back this offseason to be the fourth receiver and insurance policy. He knows the offense and has executed adequately in the past. But overall, he's become a fringe player who would be a detriment to have starting everyday. In fact, the recent addition of free agent Kelly Washington has put Baskett on the bubble of even making the team.

    The last possibility is 5th-round pick Riley Cooper. The Florida standout has drawn rave reviews at camp so far, but his game is still raw. However, the Eagles have had rookie wide receivers make unexpectedly big contributions the last two years. Injuries forced both Jackson and Maclin play almost immediately, perhaps the same could happen for Cooper. The extra repetitions provided in the starters' absence could jumpstart his Eagles career.

    Whoever steps in for Maclin, wide receiver is a place to keep an eye on as training camp continues.