DeSean Jackson one of Redskins' stars at training camp

DeSean Jackson already has drawn praise from Redskins coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Robert Griffin III.
DeSean Jackson already has drawn praise from Redskins coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Posted: July 26, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. - DeSean Jackson's first training camp practice with the Washington Redskins ended around 11 a.m. Thursday, but Jackson stayed on the field. He took extra throws after other players filed to the locker room.

Once he finished, Jackson walked to the ropes that held back fans three or four deep. He signed autographs and posed for photos. It was those fans' first time to see the former Eagles receiver as a Redskin, and Jackson tried to endear himself to a group he once tortured with touchdowns. Their altered allegiance was evident.

Calls of "D-Jack!" and "Jackpot" - or, Jaccpot, the name of Jackson's record label - could be heard from the crowd. In the team store, Jackson's jersey was one of six for sale. In women's sizes, it was only Jackson and quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Jackson's team might have changed, but his stardom remains intact.

After a turbulent offseason with trade rumors that swelled before his eventual release, punctuated by questions about his character, Jackson said that he's "happy." And so is Washington, which boasts a team that might prove to be the Eagles' biggest competition in the NFC East.

"I just look forward to being here," Jackson said after Thursday's practice. "That's the biggest thing I can really say. I'm not really caught up with the past, what went on [with the Eagles]. Biggest thing I can say is we have some great guys here, great coaches, great front offices. And I'm happy. At the end of the day, that's all that really matters."

During a five-minute interview, Jackson repeated multiple times how he's looking "forward." He never mentioned the Eagles, and downplayed comparisons between what he's experiencing in Washington and his six seasons in Philadelphia.

Four months since Jackson's unceremonious release, both sides appear to have moved on. The Eagles are publicly confident in their receiver corps and were so eager to dispose of Jackson that they let him walk for no compensation.

Jackson, who has the fourth-most receiving yards in Eagles history and three Pro Bowls on his resumé, found free agency to be inviting. He received a guarantee of $16 million - more than he was guaranteed to earn in Philadelphia.

"Honestly, man, I really don't compare [Washington] to anything else," Jackson said. "I look at it as a new opportunity, a new beginning. I really don't get caught up in too much with the past. Here, they have a lot of things going that we want to get accomplished."

Jackson lined up with the first team opposite Pierre Garcon. Other skill-position players included tight end Jordan Reed, wide receivers Santana Moss and Andre Roberts, and running back Alfred Morris.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said he's had no issues with Jackson as a player. The only negative, Gruden said, is that Jackson can look "too cool for school" on some of his routes. But he added that Jackson is running fast when he does it.

There was a skinny post that Gruden said was 10 yards underthrown because of how fast Jackson ran, even if it did not appear to Gruden that Jackson was running fast.

"Once the ball's in the air, he takes off, he's gone," Gruden said. "He's dynamite. He's definitely a force to be reckoned with. You have to roll over the top on him, play softer coverages. Opens up underneath stuff, opens up the running game."

"He's a dynamic football player," Griffin said, "and we look forward to him making dynamic plays."

At 27 and coming off the finest season of his career, Jackson would seem to be in his prime. He already has talked of his anticipation for the two Eagles games this season, and coming to Washington puts him with a quarterback and within an offense that should make last season's statistics (82 receptions, 1,332 yards, nine touchdowns) attainable. The results will either validate the Eagles' decision or haunt the decision-makers - and the defense - for season to come.

"Going on my seventh year," Jackson said, "I feel like I have a pretty good head on my shoulders about what to expect and how to come in and work as a veteran."

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