Rodgers praises fellow 'Cal guy' DeSean Jackson

Posted: January 06, 2011

Aaron Rodgers now owes DeSean Jackson both an apology and a big thank you.

The apology stems from Rodgers' role in recruiting Jackson, a highly sought-after receiver in high school, to the University of California, then leaving a year early before he could ever throw to him.

And the thank you?

"That play he made at the end of the Giants game - it really helped us out," Rodgers said yesterday. Without the Eagles' come-from-behind victory over the Giants on Dec. 19 - punctuated by Jackson's 65-yard punt return for a touchdown as time expires - Rodgers and the Packers might not be poised to play in Philadelphia Sunday.

That's assuming the Eagles would have taken either the Vikings or Cowboys more seriously, which they most certainly would have.

"That return allowed us to be in the position where we are now," Rodgers said. "He's incredible."

As for the other thing: Cal fans have blogged about what might have been had Rodgers - who led the Pac-10 in passing his final season - returned to throw to Jackson his senior year.

"Obviously, I was wishing that he had stayed," Jackson said yesterday. "I never really knew what he was going to do. It's not a big deal - it's no different than somebody wishing I had stayed instead of leaving after my junior year."

Rodgers did return to Cal for visits a few times, and the two got to know each other. They keep in touch during the season - "Us Cal guys stick together," Rodgers said - and both savored the chance to play with each other, finally, in last year's Pro Bowl.

"He's a good dude, man," Jackson said.

"He's a talented guy," Rodgers said. "He's in a class all by himself with the kind of talent he's got."

Quarterback love

When Kevin Kolb was preparing to take over the reins as Eagles quarterback, he consulted the Rodgers and the two became, in the words of the Packers quarterback, "good buddies."

But that doesn't stop Rodgers from appreciating Michael Vick, whom he called yesterday, "a guy who has paid his debt to society."

"I'm really happy for Michael," Rodgers said.

"The majority of the players around the league - if not all of them - are just really happy for Michael.

"And probably more happy for him if they don't have to play him."

As for his friend, Kolb?

"I think I was just most proud of the way Kevin handled it," he said. "He's been through a lot already. It was a tough situation, and I was very proud of the way he handled everything. He's been behind Michael.

"He's a very good player. He's going to have a chance in this league either with Philadelphia or with a team that realizes what kind of talent he's got."

Jenkins practices

From the bad news gets worse department: Green Bay defensive end Cullen Jenkins, who was second on the Packers in sacks with seven this season, was a limited participant in practice yesterday and could be in the lineup Sunday after not playing for more than a month.

Hobbled by a broken hand and calf problems for much of the season, Jenkins' last game was against the 49ers on Dec. 5.

"From last week to this week, we are starting to get the strength back a lot better," he said yesterday. "It is still a lot more that we can get in there, strength and improving, but right now we are really feeling good about it."

Even without Jenkins, the Pack finished second in the NFL with 47 sacks. Clay Matthews was the team leader with 13 1/2, but with teams scheming to stop him, others - such as nose tackle B.J. Raji and outside linebacker Erik Walden - have racked them up of late. Signed as a free agent in late October, Walden won NFC defensive player of the week honors after recording three sacks Sunday against the Bears. *

Daily News sports writer Les Bowen contributed to this report.