When camp began, no one in the media corps really expected this wrinkle - the Eagles' most lethal weapon going silent, for reasons no one quite understands. Gonna be really frustrating for reporters and fans if it extends into the season.
But even less fun, of course, would be a Jackson injury that extends into the season, so it was reassuring to see No. 10 catching passes again yesterday. A week ago today, he left the field in anguish, on an electric cart, his faced buried in his forearm. Jackson had landed awkwardly after catching a pass. The diagnosis was a lower back strain, which by yesterday seemed forgotten.
"He looked good," quarterback Kevin Kolb said. "Obviously, today wasn't 100 percent for anybody; we were on a 10-10-10 [shortened] practice, but I think it's a nice little transition for him to get into tomorrow's practice. He looked fluid; threw some deep balls right off the bat, and of course, he went out and got 'em, like he always does . . . When you've got that much speed out there, all of a sudden the holes are a little bit bigger, and obviously, he creates a little bit more separation.
"It feels good [to have him back]. Looking forward to having [wide receiver Jeremy] Maclin [left knee bone bruise] back, as well. I was fortunate enough to get a little more work right off the bat with Maclin than with DeSean. Being a new group, we need as much work as possible. I'm just glad that the injuries are minor enough that we're going to be able to get everybody back before that first preseason game, when we can really get some work in."
The first preseason game is Friday at Lincoln Financial Field against Jacksonville. No one else has said that Maclin, who rode the cart off the field Tuesday, will necessarily be back that quickly, but Maclin did express relief that the injury wasn't more serious when he spoke to reporters Thursday.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was asked this week about the importance of getting his young guns some reps to build cohesiveness. Mornhinweg said it's a little early to be concerned, and there's still plenty of preseason left.
"You want as much as possible," Kolb said. "But Marty's right, it is early. We're working on detail work of our own individual selves a lot . . . the good thing is, those [rookies]. You get to see what those young guys got."
Tight end Brent Celek was asked whether the offense's struggles in the brief Flight Night scrimmage Thursday night at the Linc could be blamed on missing the top two wideouts.
"I wouldn't attribute it to missing those guys. We always love to have them out on the field, but as an offense, we struggled. We can't have practices like that, if we want to be good," Celek said. "We have to pick it up, and we did today."
Celek said Jackson "looks good, and he says he feels good." He agreed there was no particular urgency to get reps in, this early in August.
"It's part of the game; guys are going to get hurt. We've all worked with Kevin. It just helps having [Jackson] out here," Celek said.
Kolb agreed with Celek's Flight Night assessment.
"We weren't real sharp," he said. "You're going to have those practices, but we don't want 'em. We'll learn from the film. Had a lot better practice today. Look forward to getting back out there tomorrow and staying on the grind . . . Some of the missed throws [Thursday], it doesn't matter who was there; he have to hit 'em. We've gotta be sharper than what we were."
Stewart Bradley was still uninjured, a full day after Flight Night; Bradley, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in that endeavor a year ago, even praised the Linc surface, in relation to Lehigh.
The linebacker said that, as eager as players might be to change the routine, there's a lot of installation left, and he doesn't think the defense is ready to play a real game. Bradley was asked how much he expects to play against Jacksonville.
"As many snaps as the [first-unit] defense makes is the amount of snaps I plan on taking," he said. "So unless there's some other plan that I don't know about, that's what I think is gonna happen."
Macho Harris remains sidelined with a hamstring problem. Asked whether he thought this might interfere with his chances to win a cornerbacking job, Harris noted that he injured an ankle in training camp last year and still started the season as the top free safety. "I just gotta be that much better when I get back," he said . . . Running back J.J. Arrington sat out yesterday with what the Eagles said was a left foot strain, but Arrington termed it a "contusion." He was walking normally . . . Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott praised cornerback Ellis Hobbs as a hitter and tackler . . . Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon, sidelined with a concussion, said he still isn't sure when he'll return. Dixon went down Monday after being sandwiched between two blockers and seemed barely conscious as he was loaded into the cart. "I just remember running a stunt. I think I fell, face first," Dixon said. The next thing he recalls, he said, is the voice of head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder. Dixon, the third tackle much of last season, is in much better shape now, having been persuaded by his girlfriend to eschew McDonald's double cheeseburgers, he said. At 6-3, 322, he is the Birds' heaviest d-lineman. *
Daily News sports writer Nate Mink contributed to this report.
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