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Eagles Need Healthy Jackson, Maclin to Light Up Ravens: A Fan's Outlook

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The Philadelphia Eagles aren't just reliant on Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy on offense. Although Eagles fans like myself focus on them the most, having DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin around to catch the ball is still important. Of course, Vick seemed to complete more passes to the Cleveland Browns than to Jackson and Maclin on Sept. 9, yet he still needed them to catch non-interceptions.

Now the Eagles don't know if either big-time receiver will be available against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 16. They are each game-time decisions after their latest injuries, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, leaving Philadelphia to hope for at least one of them to get on the field - and stay there.

Both Jackson and Maclin are as injury-prone as Vick is, although Vick gets most of the press. Yet Jackson's history of concussions, along with Maclin's migraines last season, makes their health equally as nerve-wracking. Fortunately, Jackson just has a hamstring problem instead of a concussion this time, while Maclin is struggling with his hip.

If each of them are able to face the Ravens, they will need to be at their best to handle Ed Reed and the Baltimore secondary. In addition, Vick actually needs to get them the ball and complete some big plays. He only did that with Maclin late in the first half against the Browns, as his two long catches gave the Eagles their first touchdown - which they clinged to for most of the second half. Jackson had a quieter afternoon, although his four catches went for 77 yards.

Given Jackson's contract problems and Maclin's migraines, 2011 was a washout year for both of them. If both of them make up for it in 2012, it will go a long way to helping the Eagles find redemption as well. Yet with their latest bruises and with Philadelphia's lucky escape at Cleveland, things aren't starting off the right way.

A win over the Ravens will go a long way towards erasing that and getting the Eagles back on track - but they will need Jackson and Maclin's help to make that happen. Getting them on the field is the first step, yet the next one is to have them perform like the stars they are supposed to be. Vick saved the day in Cleveland with a touchdown pass to Clay Harbor, but he needs his top receivers to save the day over Baltimore.

Vick, Jackson and Maclin hold the Eagles' season in their hands whenever they take the field - and whenever they don't. For once, Vick's health isn't in question for Philadelphia going into a big game, yet Jackson and Maclin are filling the uncertainty gap this time. The Eagles need them all on the field to beat the Ravens - and then they need them to light it up when they get there.

Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.

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