Anyone who has seen the Philadelphia Eagles‘ first two preseason games or made the trek to Lincoln Financial Field for any of the team’s open training camp practices would be hard pressed not to be impressed by DeSean Jackson’s performance.
In two preseason games against the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, Jackson has dazzled. The six-year veteran has posted three receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown in the preseason, but has been an almost daily standout during training camp practices.
“I think DeSean has had a fantastic camp,” Kelly pointed out before Thursday’s walkthrough practice at the Novacare Complex. “He’s getting stronger in the weight room and he’s another guy that’s kind of bought into what we’ve asked him to do and it’s helped him make himself a better player … I think he’s a huge advantage for us because he can create some mismatches out there.”
Jackson is facing a season in which he must produce. His contract is structured in such a way that if the two-time Pro Bowler fails to meet expectations, the team can walk away from him at season’s end with very little cap penalty. In 2012, Jackson, buoyed by a preseason contract extension, posted career-lows in both receptions (45) and yards (700) in 11 games.
With Jeremy Maclin lost for the season with a torn ACL, the pressure has never been higher on Jackson to perform.
Needless to say, Jackson is a bounce-back candidate in his first season under Kelly because of the sheer amount of plays this team runs each game on offense and the lack of depth at receiver, which should make the California product a focal point.
It’s no secret that Jackson is one of the more breathtaking and versatile players in the league given his speed and ability to hit a home run as a punt returner. However, his 5-foot-10, 175-pound frame leaves him vulnerable going over the middle of the field.
It’s been since 2009 that Jackson hauled in more than 60 catches in a season, but if there ever were an opportunity for him to regain his dominant form from 2009-10, it is in his first year under an offensive innovator like Kelly.
Matt Lombardo is also a sports radio host on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow him on Twitter.