PHILADELPHIA — For the first time this preseason, the Philadelphia Eagles will have their preferred trio of wide receivers on the field at the same time along with last season's league rushing leader, LeSean McCoy.
Riley Cooper (ankle), Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) and rookie Jordan Matthews should all line up when head coach Chip Kelly goes to a three wide receiver set when the Eagles host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third preseason game Thursday night.
Cooper, last year's surprise in Kelly's system when he caught 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns, did not play in the first two preseason games because of the ankle injury suffered during the first week of training camp.
Maclin, who missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL, has been bothered by a hamstring injury and sat out last Friday's game in New England.
McCoy, who became the first Eagle since Steve van Buren in 1949 to lead the league in rushing, with 1,607 yards last year, missed a few days of practice with what was termed "turf toe".
According to Kelly, all three should be on the field Thursday night.
"(McCoy), I don't think he'll ever play again," Kelly joked when asked about the status of his running back. "No, he's fine. He was out here. It's not that serous, not that big of a deal."
McCoy has carried seven times in the first two games for just 19 yards. He should see about one half of action against the Steelers.
"We haven't gone over all of that yet," Kelly said of how long the starters will play. "We have two more days to figure that out."
While Cooper and Maclin are back to boost quarterback Nick Foles and the Eagles passing game, two other backup wide receivers will miss Thursday's game. Veteran Brad Smith, who was getting plenty of time with the two starters out, is nursing a groin injury and rookie Josh Huff could be out a few more weeks with a sprained shoulder.
"Brad has a groin, I don't know if he's going to go," Kelly said. "But it's not an extended thing. If he doesn't play Thursday, I expect him to be back at practice, Saturday."
There was some good news for Huff, another draft pick who has provided moments of excitement in the early going of camp.
"Nothing is broken, he just has to rehab the shoulder," Kelly said. "No surgery, it's just a rehab situation."
Having the trio of Cooper, Maclin and Matthews, the highly-touted second-round pick from Vanderbilt, together will give Kelly a chance to see what he has going into the season. And give Foles the receivers he expects to have during the regular season.
"It's tough for Nick," Cooper said. "Every time he looks up there's a different guy out there, because someone is down. We all have to be out there. It helps the team and it helps Nick.
"It's a big deal, yeah. In the NFL you need to have timing, you need to have accuracy. When this guy is out and then this guy is out, it's tough to build on that."
That's especially true for Maclin, who hadn't lined up with Foles, since the quarterback's rookie year and that was in Andy Reid's West Coast offense.
"It feels good to have us all on the field playing and playing together," Maclin said. "We all have our own relationship with Nick, and it's building by being out there together."
NOTES: CB Nolan Carroll, the free agent signing from Miami who played well early, but missed the first two games with a hamstring injury, is also expected to return Thursday. . Backup R B Chris Polk is not expected to play with a hamstring injury.