In Hawaii, Eagles' DeSean Jackson talks Eagles future

The Eagles' DeSean Jackson greets the crowd during the playoffs. He's sidelined with a knee sprain for the Pro Bowl.
The Eagles' DeSean Jackson greets the crowd during the playoffs. He's sidelined with a knee sprain for the Pro Bowl.
Posted: January 28, 2011

KAPOLEI, Hawaii - DeSean Jackson is in Hawaii this week, "chillin' " as he put it, with his mother, brother, cousin, and the NFL's Pro Bowl players. But as of Thursday, he was not going to play in the game.

The NFL announced that Dallas Cowboys receiver Miles Austin will replace Jackson.

The Super Bowl? Jackson would play in that. But the Pro Bowl?

Because, he said, an MRI exam revealed he suffered a bone bruise and a grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee in the Eagles' playoff loss to Green Bay, Jackson is not going to risk it. The knee, he said, has not completely healed.

Pencil that in as one more issue facing Jackson heading into this off-season. The knee, the contract, the potential work stoppage, the frustration of a promising season ending abruptly with a first-round playoff loss, the Eagles' gaping holes on defense, the patchwork offensive line - all of those things are on his mind.

The 24-year-old Jackson is making his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance. He is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He also absorbed one of the most brutal helmet-to-helmet hits of the season and, afterward, never seemed exactly the same.

Jackson's career remains on the rise, and while he is bullish on the future, he is impatient. Jackson wants more, a lot more. Personal stats and touchdowns, while they matter, are not his utmost concern.

Asked what is next for him, Jackson did not hesitate: "I want a Super Bowl."

After practicing with his NFC brethren on Wednesday, Jackson spent Thursday's practice on the sideline, wearing a blue visor, gray T-shirt, and baggy black shorts. He looked like a skinny boy among men, easily a head shorter than Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Detroit's Calvin Johnson.

What Jackson lacks in size he makes up for in speed. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan on Wednesday marveled at Jackson's quickness, saying, "Oh, my God, yeah, he was fast."

Jackson knew the knee was an issue, but wanted to come to Hawaii anyway. He could have withdrawn, as his teammates Asante Samuel and Jason Peters did, but this was a dream he shared with his father, Bill, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2009. Last year's Pro Bowl was in Miami. This year, the game returned to its original, prestigious locale.

It is good for Jackson to be seen with the league's elite, but given multiple opportunities to make a bold statement about his contract, which paid him a paltry $480,000 this season, Jackson declined. He played it relatively straight, saying that his contract situation will be resolved, one way or the other, by his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and the Eagles.

"Hopefully they know what I'm worth to the team, and we'll get something worked out," Jackson said.

Jackson also shrugged off the notion that the concussion he suffered early in the season against Atlanta had an impact on his play down the stretch. He said that once he was cleared to play, he did not suffer any ill effects, and while Jackson is aware that critics questioned his willingness to go across the middle after the injury, he said that was not an issue.

"A lot of people probably said it was, but I kept the same confidence I had before [the concussion] happened," Jackson said.

Jackson has heard about the furor back in Philly about the Eagles' defensive-coordinator vacancy. Walking along a winding path, palm trees blowing in the breeze above, Jackson laughed.

"It kind of caught me off guard when they released [Sean McDermott], or fired him, whatever it is," Jackson said. "He's a good coach. Hopefully we can get someone else to come in and just kind of keep up with our defense, because in order to win a championship, we need our defense to kind of step up and just help out."

It is always dangerous for a star player to play fantasy general manager, but Jackson did not hesitate.

"We could get a little bit stronger on the offensive line, because we had a couple of guys get hurt," Jackson added. "If we can kind of do that and protect Michael Vick, the sky's the limit."

Jackson said the Eagles need to find "more playmakers" on defense, including another top-notch cornerback to play opposite Samuel.

This week in Hawaii, Jackson has been recruiting Oakland corner Nnamdi Asomugha, who will become a free agent in March because he did not reach certain performance incentives. An all-Pro selection in addition to a Pro Bowler, Asomugha was easily the most feared cornerback in the league this season. Teams rarely threw in his direction, and when they did, he made them pay.

"I talked to Nnamdi," Jackson said. "I said, 'Man, come on, Nnamdi, we need you to come sign with us,' because if we had him and Asante, oh, my God. That's very dangerous."

While he said he isn't privy to any inside information, Jackson has little doubt that Vick will be back as the Eagles' starting quarterback in 2011 and that Kevin Kolb will be playing elsewhere. A big supporter of Kolb's after the 2009 season, Jackson said it is impossible not to be behind Vick now.

"It was just hard to not play Mike Vick after all the success he was having," Jackson said. "So I think now we'll be able to plan for things. Now we know who's our quarterback."

After a week in Hawaii, Jackson will return to his home in Southern California and begin his off-season training. Depending on what happens with the collective bargaining agreement, Jackson said he might host the Eagles' offensive skill-position players for an independent minicamp so they can stay sharp once the league and the players unite.

Mr. Celebration will focus on one goal. "I like to celebrate touchdowns," he said, but he'd like to celebrate something else. A championship. He will use the one that got away against Green Bay as motivation.

"It's hard. It's definitely hard," Jackson said. "But I know our future is very bright for us with the Philadelphia Eagles. I think within the next three years, we'll really be able to have a shot at the Super Bowl."


Contact columnist Ashley Fox

at 215-854-5064 or afox@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AshleyMFox.

 

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