For Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, suiting up and running routes in his first game in nearly two years is a pretty great feeling. And a feeling that drove him during the Birds preseason opener 34-28 Friday night.
"I think it was more emotional for me," Maclin said after the Eagles completed a public practice at Franklin Field Sunday afternoon. "The fact I haven't played for so long, it just felt good. I was happy, I was excited, I am ready to move forward."
It was a nice followup act for Maclin, to be able to take the field in front of more than 28,000 fans on UPenn's campus alongside Eagles alum who were honored before the session.
"This is Philly," Maclin said, shortly before a wave of the arms elicited a screaming ovation from fans hoping for autographs in the Franklin Field stands. "This place means so much to so many people. I think once you become an Eagle, you kind of inherit it. I am happy and privileged to come out here and practice."
The specialness of the afternoon was not lost on Eagles, young and old, as they took to the turf in hallowed halls that once saw the Eagles win their last NFL championship back in 1960.
"It's a special place, you don't get that everywhere," Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "The tradition of the Eagles, the fans, for the fans to come out and support us like the did today, they came out in great numbers. It's fun to see and it's cool to come out here and zap some of that energy fro the fans, going throughout training camp it kind of gets long but they come and really pick us up."
The highlight of the practice was the when the first team defense and offense ran 11-on-11 drills at the end of practice. Undrafted free agentIfeanyiMomah caught a Nick Foles pass in the corner of the end zone to much fanfare. Newcomer Darren Sproles and tight end Zach Ertz also impressed with the first team.
"I have never been here to Penn's campus," Ertz said. "It's a beautiful campus and it's probably the closest to the Ivy league a lot us will ever get. Philly fans are unbelievable; 28,000 for a Sunday practice is pretty impressive, it was great to be here."