Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who led the team with 69 catches for 857 yards and seven touchdowns last season, tore the ACL in his right knee in a noncontact drill Saturday and is expected to be out for the season.
The team confirmed the injury on twitter.
It happened during a 7-on-7 drill when Maclin took a few steps off the line of scrimmage and dropped to the ground, writhing in pain.
The injury is especially bad timing for both Maclin and the Eagles. Maclin, the team's first-round draft pick out of Missouri in 2009 (19th overall), is entering a contract year. New head coach Chip Kelly was surely counting on him as a big part of a new, face-paced offense.
"It's terrible," offensive guard Evan Mathis told NJ.com. "Especially for somebody like Mac, who was all in. He eats, drinks, sleeps, breaths football."
Responding to support from teammates and fans, Maclin wrote on his Twitter account @JMAC_18, "Appreciate all the love and support the twitter fam. ... sad day but I have setbacks my entire life. Minor setback for a MAJOR comeback #birdgang."
Although DeSean Jackson is considered the Eagles' No. l receiver, he has been inconsistent, which elevated Maclin's importance due to his consistency.
During the 2010-2011 seasons, Maclin tied New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks with a league-best seven red-zone touchdowns.
Absent Maclin, the Eagles go to a depth chart that includes Jason Cooper, a significant 6-foot-3 target in the red zone and a good blocker. He caught 23 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns last year.
Coincidentally, the Eagles announced Saturday that 29-year-old wide receiver David Ball of New Hampshire was added to the roster.
Ball, 29, played for Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly at New Hampshire, when Kelly was offensive coordinator. Ball broke Jerry Rice's Division I-AA record for receiving touchdowns, with 58 and finished only 38 yards behind Rice with 3,955 receiving yards.
This is not the first time Maclin has been a cause for concern health-wise.
In August of 2010 he was carted from practice in training camp with what turned out to be a bone bruise. That year he caught 70 passes for 964 yards and 10 touchdowns.
In August of 2011, Maclin was placed on nonfootball injury list because of a lymphoma scare. However, it was determined he did not have cancer and the problem was an inflammatory virus.