Of all the noted Philly Killers in the city’s sporting history, none arguably drove the dagger deeper than DeSean Jackson.
In six career games against the Eagles, the speedy receiver went 5-1, with four of those wins coming as a member of the Washington Redskins, the other last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had 24 catches for 569 yards (23.71 yards per catch) and three touchdowns in those six games.
Deadly numbers, for sure, made even more painful by the fact that he did them against the team he was drafted by in the second round back in 2008 then getting unceremoniously cut by Chip Kelly after the 2013 season.
The Eagles don’t have to worry about Jackson writing their obituary in week one. He is back on their side as they get ready to host the Redskins in the season opener at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday (1 p.m. FOX).
VIDEO: DeSean Jackson on season opener against former team
“It’s going to be a very special occasion,” said Jackson following Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “I’m looking forward to this. Since I’ve been back all I can think about is the first time I’m entering the field at the Linc.
“It’s going to feel great. I’m sure I will be over-anxious; ready to go Saturday night (and) can’t wait till Sunday. It’s Wednesday. I can’t peak too soon”
For game plan reasons, nobody is saying how much of a role Jackson will play on Sunday.
Asked what his optimum number of touches would be, Jackson said: “I don’t know. They might not use me. I might just be a decoy. You never know. I don’t know. I can’t let you know right now. You’ll just have to wait til Sunday to find that out.”
Jackson will get his share of targets, but it is interesting to note that he spoke about the broken finger on his left ring finger and it sounded like a concern.
It is an injury, Jackson said, that has him revisiting the fundamentals of being a receiver, dating back to his high school days when you have to have “an extra look at the ball and make sure you tuck it in.”
He added, “It’s an obstacle. Honestly it’s a challenge. In 12 years I never really broke a finger. I had some issues last year with a torn ligament in my thumb, but it’s a little different. But any obstacle I feel like I can always overcome.”
Jackson spent three seasons with Washington after his Eagles release. The previous two seasons were spent with Tampa Bay.
His only game against the Redskins since leaving Philly was last year with the Bucs. He was targeted eight times with five catches for 67 yards (13.40 yard per catch).
Jackson, though, doesn’t need to be targeted to have an impact on a game, according to Washington coach Jay Gruden.
“No, he doesn’t, but he has to be targeted if you want him to like you or not,” said Gruden. “I mean, hell, he can get pretty frustrated at times with me. But I love DeSean, man, he made our team better, that’s for sure. He can take the top off and, even if he just runs a deep post route and takes two with him, that opens it up for Zach Ertz or Alshon Jeffery, that’s something he starting to understand that is just as important as getting the ball.
“I think he’s a guy that if he has 40 catches for 8, 900 yards for the Eagles, I think that’s a huge success because the times he’s in there and doesn’t have a catch he’s going to open it up for other guys. We have to be aware of hi, there’s no doubt about it. He can still run, he’s very talented, he’s the best ball tracker – I had A.J. Green as well – they’re both great ball trackers. Ball’s in the air, he can go get it. He’s like a centerfielder. He’s a great player.”
One that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz can’t wait to get to work with on Sunday.
“I’m excited about the new playmakers and weapons that we have, and obviously, DeSean being one of the biggest there,” said Wentz. “I know for me, I’m excited. I know the city is really excited for him to be back here.
“Adding an element like DeSean, who can really stretch the field, I feel like we’ve talked about it a lot this offseason, but I think it opens up so much more in the run game and the underneath passing game.”
So maybe Jackson will be a decoy – until he’s not, until he’s blowing by a safety for a 75-yard touchdown. Against his former team, just the way he did when he played against the Eagles.
Asked what motivates him against former teams, he said: “They had the opportunity to keep me, I guess, and they didn’t, so I get to take out whatever it is I feel on that to the team, to the opponent. Makes it no more special, but obviously I’m where I’m out now.
“I can only be where my feet is standing. I’m happy to be a part of what we have here, it’s special. Any time we get to play anybody, I always had the same mentality and that’s the fierce competitor edge that I have. Whoever I go against regardless if you’re my best friend or my worst enemy, I’ve just been trained and been programmed to go about my business in a worthy fashion and that’s to beat your opponent and beat him bad. However we are going to do that, that’s the plan.”