KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nothing about the 2016 season went the way Jeremy Maclin envisioned it. Riddled by a nagging injury and facing personal loss off the field, the campaign turned into a lost year for the 29-year-old receiver.
“I’ve got something to prove,” Maclin said Tuesday during the start of the team’s organized team activities. “I struggled a little bit last year with injuries and everything else. I’m healthy, and I’m looking forward to getting this thing back on the road.”
Enjoying football seemed a battle for Maclin much of last season. Things started well in week one, when the veteran receiver caught five passes for 63 yards and a touchdown in the team’s thrilling come-from-behind 33-27 overtime win over San Diego.
Then on Sept. 14, Maclin learned of the passing of Isiah DeLeon-Mares, a childhood friend who became a lifelong confidant and business partner. DeLeon-Mares helped manage the Jeremy Maclin Foundation, with the two friends working closely together on causes close to their hearts.
Maclin caught just six passes on 15 targets including two uncharacteristic drops in a week two loss at Houston.
Shortly afterwards a groin injury slowed Maclin physically, knocking him out of four games and limiting his participation in others. He finished last season with 44 catches for 536 yards and two touchdowns, all career lows.
The Chiefs brought Maclin to Kansas City as a free agent for more than his ability to catch passes. The team believed his work ethic would enhance the culture coach Andy Reid hoped to build in the locker room.
Maclin consistently stresses to his fellow wide receivers the need for attention to the details, a trait he feels he neglected a year ago. He placed a greater emphasis this offseason on his healthcare regiment, giving himself better rest and focusing on a healthier diet.
“Maybe last year slacking up on taking care of my body is one of the things I really needed to pay attention to like I should have,” Maclin said. “It’s attention to details and it’s going back out there and having fun.”
Quarterback Alex Smith said he placed a portion of the blame for Maclin’s lack of production a year ago on himself.
“Both of us are in on that and vice versa,” Smith said. “For a lot of reasons, we weren’t as productive as we could be and should have been. I’m looking forward to the remedy in that.”
Maclin hopes a fresh attitude and positive frame of mind helps wash away the disappointment from last season. He turned 29 on May 12, and this past weekend celebrated his wedding back home in St. Louis with several of this Chiefs teammates on hand for the nuptials.
Following a year of disappointment and pain, Maclin now says he’s finally happy and healthy for the first time in a long time.
“It was hard for me last year,” Maclin said. “My mindset is to get back to what I love, and that’s play football.”
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.