Jeremy Maclin: “I’m just blessed to have a clean bill of health now and just get back to playing football.”

September 7, 2011 – 6:00 am by Michael Bean

What a scary six months it’s been for the 23-year old Jeremy Maclin. The Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver first started experiencing a smattering of unpleasant symptoms in March — cold sweats at night, feverish chills, weight loss. The initial diagnosis was thought to be lymphoma, a form of cancer originating in the lymph nods. Serious stuff.

Turns out though that additional tests continued to come back inconclusive. After what I imagine must have been an ungodly amount of follow-up tests in order to double and triple check that they had accounted for all potential sources of his initial symptoms, doctors declared that they saw no serious threat to Maclin’s health and that he could return to football when he saw fit.

Of course, the Eagles organization and a host of physicians will be keeping a close eye on Maclin, but for the time being, life is thankfully returning to normal for the third-year WR. The task at hand for Maclin is getting back in shape in time for Sunday’s 2011 season opener against the St. Louis Rams. As you’ll hear Maclin is planning on playing, and his coaches are working with him this week as if he’ll be a regular, fully installed component in the Eagles’ dynamic offense.

Maclin joined 101 ESPN in St. Louis to talk about his clean bill of health, feeling blessed to be back playing football and feeling well again, his gratitude to fans who showed him support and strength throughout the unnerving process, how he’s without question planning on starting at WR this Sunday for the Eagles’ opener, his assessment of the Eagles roster and the team’s chances in 2011 based on what he saw on the preseason, how he thinks the Eagles will be like every other team in the NFL when it comes to perhaps needing the first part of the season to round into form due to the lockout’s effect on the offseason practice schedule, and the respect he and the Eagles offense has for what Steve Spagnuolo and the Rams  defense will bring to the table at home this Sunday.

On his legion of fans both in his hometown of St. Louis and in Philadelphia being relieved that he’s healthy:

“Yeah, definitely. It was a blessing and I’m just blessed to have a clean bill of health now and just get back to playing football. But I appreciate everyone’s concern and just all the goodwill and support.”

If he’s fully back to practice and ready to play this coming Sunday:

“Yeah I’m back at it. I’m back to taking the full number of reps I normally would. I’m back in the starting lineup. So I’ll be back out there Week 1 playing against St. Louis in front of my hometown.”

So it’s a certainty that he’ll be starting on Sunday for Week 1?

“Yeah it’s already set in stone.”

How he’s feeling about the Eagles’ chances after this year’s preseason:

“I think we’re in a good position. Everybody’s out there talking, especially with all the moves we made coming into this season, but at the end of the day you’ve still got to go out and play football. But we know that and understand that. We know that we probably have a bulls eye on our back this year, but at the same time that’s not really how we look at it. We look at teams like Green Bay who won the Super Bowl and Atlanta and all those guys that went farther than us, we look at them as being the guys that we need to go out and prove we can beat and play on their level. I know that everybody is calling us a Dream Team and whatever, but we’re not trying to feed into that; we’re not really taking that into consideration.”

If he agrees that it might take the new-look Eagles some time to hit their stride this season:

“I think if you think about it, I think that’s everybody. Because with losing OTAs and losing all the offseason workouts, teams are still kind of feeling themselves a little bit. So I think that’s everybody. I think you’ll see the football get more intense as the season goes on. Our goal is just to go out there and take it one game at a time. We know if we understand that and we do the things that we need to do, we understand that there’s not very many teams that can play on our level if we go out there and do the things that are necessary that we need to do to win the ball game.”

On what concerns him and the rest of the Eagles offense going up against the Rams effective pass rush and the rest of Steve Spagnulo’s well-coached defense:

“You hit it right on the head — that’s one of the things we really talked about yesterday as far as their defensive line being just relentless. And the also you’ve got to know where No. 55 is at all times. We know [James] Laurinaitis is a good ball player, and we know he can be very disruptive coming in on the blitz. And they disguise things very well. So we understand that this is not going to be a walk in the park, and we understand that we’re in for a dog fight, and I think we’ll be prepared for it.”

Listen here to Maclin with Bernie Miklasz on 101 ESPN St. Louis