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Patriots preparing as if Jeremy Maclin will play

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Kansas City’s Jeremy Maclin went down in the second half of Saturday’s playoff win over Houston.Tony Gutierrez

FOXBOROUGH — Jeremy Maclin was able to end two lengthy streaks for the Kansas City Chiefs this season, going over 1,000 receiving yards and catching a touchdown pass. Whether he'll play against the Patriots remains to be seen.

Maclin suffered an ankle injury during Saturday's playoff win over Houston. He'll be evaluated this week as the Chiefs prepare to face the Patriots in an AFC divisional-round game at Gillette Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Despite the distinct possibility that Maclin won't be able to play, the Patriots will operate under the assumption that he will.

"That's pretty much the case every week — there's usually a player or two every week that you could put in that category," said coach Bill Belichick Tuesday. "We assume everybody is going to be ready. If they are, we'll prepare for their best. If they're not, if there's something that we can't control, then we'll have to be ready for whoever else is in there.

"We have to be ready for all the guys on the active roster, and even some guys on the practice squad roster, because they could be elevated at the end of the week, which is not infrequent. We prepare for everybody; whoever we get, we get. It's pretty much like that every week at some position."


Maclin's position is wide receiver, an area that has caused a lot of angst for the Chiefs over the past few seasons. Entering this season, they hadn't had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2011, when Dwayne Bowe had 1,159. They also went the entire 2014 season without having a wide receiver catch a touchdown pass, a streak that stretched back to 2013 and reached 21 games.

Enter Maclin, who had 1,318 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014, his final season with the Eagles before joining Kansas City. Maclin caught a touchdown pass in a Week 3 win at Green Bay (ending one drought), and went over 1,000 yards for the season on Dec. 27, in a win over the Browns (ending another).


He finished the season with 87 catches for 1,088 yards, and caught eight touchdown passes. Six of those came over the final six games.

"Maclin's a real athletic player: fast, quick, strong after the catch, very dynamic player with the ball in his hands," said Belichick. "He's got a little running back background, and he's hard to tackle.

"They do a good job of creating things for him, and he does a good job of getting open, catching the ball, and running with it. He's another guy who can hurt the defense at all three levels: Catch-and-run plays, intermediate routes, and deep balls. He presents a lot of problems."

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.