Eagles' Jackson out of Pro Bowl with sprained knee

Dolphins' Randy Starks attempts to juggle a football during the AFC team's practice for Sunday's Pro Bowl.
Dolphins' Randy Starks attempts to juggle a football during the AFC team's practice for Sunday's Pro Bowl.
Posted: January 28, 2011

HONOLULU - As it turns out, DeSean Jackson's wait for another chance to play at Aloha Stadium won't come to an end with Sunday's Pro Bowl.

The Eagles receiver pulled out of the NFL all-star game with a sprained left knee, the same knee he injured in the Eagles' loss to the Packers in the first round of the playoffs. Jackson practiced with the NFC on Wednesday, but didn't take reps yesterday.

He initially spoke with reporters as if nothing was wrong. When asked whether the Pro Bowl fit his style of play, Jackson said, "We'll see how it goes. I'm blessed with the opportunity."

About an hour later, the league announced that the Cowboys' Miles Austin would replace Jackson.

An Eagles spokesman said he talked with the trainer who tended to Jackson, and the trainer termed the injury very minor.

"DeSean says he's good," the spokesman said.

Jackson was hurt in the first quarter of the loss to the Packers, returned in the second quarter and did not record a catch until the fourth. He finished with two catches for 47 yards.

That leaves the Eagles with two representatives in Sunday's game, quarterback Michael Vick and kicker David Akers.

Jackson starred last year in his first Pro Bowl with two touchdown receptions, but that one was played at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. He was also the first player in the history of the game to be named a starter at two positions, receiver and kickoff returner.

Jackson is, however, familiar with Aloha Stadium, which is about 10 miles east of Kapolei High School, where the NFC practiced yesterday. He played at the 50,000-seat facility as a high school sophomore, when his Long Beach Poly team visited the Islands.

Jackson's Jackrabbits beat Kahuku High School, of Oahu, 42-16, in 2002. Both schools have produced numerous NFL players.

"I didn't score, but I caught a couple of balls and we got the victory, and that's what counts. It was a good experience," Jackson said.

Another current Pro Bowl player who competed at Aloha Stadium that year is the Cowboys' Mat McBriar, who was then the University of Hawaii punter.

After yesterday's practice, McBriar said he considers Jackson one of the NFL's most dangerous return men.

"I know about his talents better than most, playing against him two times a year," McBriar said. "I think he's fantastic. He and [Chicago's Devin] Hester are in a league of their own. I really don't like kicking to them at all. But sometimes it's easier said than done [to kick it away from Jackson]. You don't want to put the ball in his hands if you don't have to."

Jackson provided perhaps the most thrilling play of the regular season when, in the final 14 seconds, he returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown against the New York Giants, capping a 28-point rally in the last 7 minutes, 28 seconds to give the Eagles a 38-31 win.

"It'll go down in history," said Jackson, who became the first player to win a game with a punt return TD on the final play. "I was very surprised [the Giants' Matt Dodge] punted the football to me."

Jackson was involved in another of the season's biggest plays, one with a much different result. He suffered the second documented concussion of his NFL career on Oct. 17, when he was hit high by the Falcons' Dunta Robinson, who also was shaken up.

He realizes he plays a position that often is vulnerable to big hits, and said he doesn't necessarily agree with every fine levied by the league.

"It's tough. It's all about playing football the way we've been taught . . . We play a physical sport. Our job is to go out there and [protect ourselves] the best way we can," Jackson said. "It's tough for people to get fined dramatic amounts like that."

Jackson declined to answer questions about his contract, which he is on record as wanting to restructure.

"I'm not really talking about that," he said.

Notes

Jim McMahon, who played quarterback for five NFL teams, including the Eagles (1990-92), attended practice with wounded war veterans. His take on Chicago's Jay Cutler coming out of Sunday's NFC Championship Game: "You don't know, really. I don't know, maybe some guys can't stand pain," said McMahon, who started at quarterback for the 1985 Super Bowl champion Bears. "You know, if it was me, you'd have to drag my [rear end] off the field" . . . David Akers was a big hit with students at Kapolei High School. He played catch with some of the kids and gave away autographed footballs. *

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