DeSean Jackson is back and savoring the spotlight

Ed Benkin
September 12, 2019 - 8:04 am
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) reacts after a first down reception in the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field.

James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — DeSean Jackson knew a message had to be sent.

The Eagles were trailing at halftime of their season opener to the Redskins. Jackson and his teammates listened to halftime instructions from Doug Pederson and the rest of the coaching staff. When the coaches left the room, Jackson decided to address the rest of the team.

"That was a crutial and pivotal moment for us coming in at halftime," said Jackson. "A lot rolled on that game.  It was the first game at home opening up in front of our fans  We knew we made our fans kind of angry. I just tried to pump my guys up and give them some motivation to get back out there. It's part of being a veteran in this league and just knowing what it will take to win."

Such is the world of the new DeSean Jackson. When the speedy wide receiver played for the Eagles the first six years of his career, there was never any doubt about his talent. However, questions about Jackson's maturity surfaced, and he was ultimately released by former coach Chip Kelly. Jackson has returned as a polished veteran who is willing to let himself be heard both on and off the field. In addition to stepping up as a leader, Jackson's hard work in practice is keeping him in the same type of shape he was in during his early days with the team.

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"Just hard work and dedication," Jackson said. "Just taking care of my body and just staying in shape. I'm just doing everything I need to do to continuously stay at a high level. When I was a rookie, Jerry Rice worked out with me. He always told me if you take less hits, you play for a longer time."

Speed wins in the NFL, and Jackson caught two deep touchdown passes against Washington last Sunday. Head coach Doug Pederson can see the difference on the field when Jackson takes his speed to another level. He also understands that Jackson thrives in the spotlight.

"It's a different speed," said Pederson. "DeSean will tell you he's got practice speed and he’s got game speed. Practice speed is around 16 mph, and game speed is up to 22. He's a gamer. He's dynamic, he’s electric, and he loves when the lights come on. That speed is real, and we saw it Sunday."

That speed will be on display again this Sunday night when the Eagles take on the Falcons. Atlanta will be desperate after starting the season with a loss in Minnesota. Jackson knows the Eagles will face a tough test against a talented team and a noisy environment.

"It gets very loud in there," Jackson said. "It's one of the kind of cooler stadiums I've played in. The Falcons are a good team, so I know they'll be cranked up. They obviously lost on the road last week, so this is their first home game. We know a lot will be riding on this game, so we want to put our best foot forward."

The younger Jackson surfaced for a brief moment when he took a 15-yard penalty, but Pederson won't let one blip on the radar dampen his excitement for what Jackson did the rest of the game as well as what lies ahead.

"He responded," said Pederson. "He knew as soon as it happened that he shouldn't have done it. Listen, there was a lot of emotion to start the game. He's playing against some of his former teammates, all that. It was the wrong time on a third-and-two to third-and-17, but I just walked up to him and just kind of — I had a grin, he had a grin. He knew."