Jackson: Not 'missing this game'

ByJohn Keim via ESPN logo
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ASHBURN, Va. -- DeSean Jackson made it clear at the end of his news conference: Bad shoulder or not, the Washington Redskins receiver plans to play Sunday in Philadelphia against his former team.

After his much-publicized release from the Eagles this past spring along with corresponding articles questioning his character, Jackson doesn't want to be sidelined. He sprained his left shoulder last week against Jacksonville and is considered day-to-day.

He did not practice Wednesday, but there has been cautious optimism all along about his availability.

"I don't think an AC joint is jeopardizing my career in the long haul," Jackson said. "If it's all on me, I'm playing. I don't plan on missing this game."

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Jackson would be limited in practice Thursday, but they hope to test him more Friday -- throwing passes over his head and seeing how he responds to any sort of contact.

But Gruden said he feels good about Jackson being able to play, provided he keeps improving.

"We won't put him out there in any circumstances," Gruden said, "where he'll be playing in pain that will take him away from his style. He's a reckless player, a fast player and if he's not 100 percent he's not worth being out there. But he's a tough kid, and I think he'll be all right."

Jackson spent six seasons with Philadelphia, setting career highs in catches (82) and yards (1,332) a year ago. But Eagles coach Chip Kelly cut Jackson in March, and he signed with the Redskins soon afterward.

"That's their decision. They moved on. I moved on," Jackson said. "I'm blessed to have a second opportunity to play here in Washington. It's not about them anymore. ... Since day one, since I stepped in here with this organization, I was just myself. I didn't really change. They accepted me for who I was. I didn't really have to prove anything to them because they knew what type of player and person I was."

Kelly said during a conference call with the Washington media Wednesday that he had "zero" level of concern about Jackson's character.

"Just trying to build the overall team in terms of what we're looking for offensively and how we wanted to get bigger at the wideout spot," Kelly said. "That's what we did."

Gruden said there have been no issues with Jackson off the field.

"When you have players with a good sense of accountability, you worry less about someone like DeSean, who has a bad reputation," Gruden said. "None of that has followed him. He's been fine with us -- on time, worked hard, prepared hard. He's a fun guy to be around ... every now and then."

Jackson wasn't sure what sort of reception he'd receive from his former fans, saying he'll be ready whether they boo or cheer him. And he still has friends on the Eagles, notably running back LeSean McCoy. Jackson said the two speak daily, and he referred to him as being like a brother.

"As much as he misses playing with me, I miss playing with him," Jackson said. "We felt the dual threat that me and him had together was very unlike any other in the league, so I wish him the best. [But] I'm not here to be buddy-buddy. Burgundy and gold are my colors now, and that's all I'm going to focus on."

Not that he's about to forget his days in Philadelphia.

"It was obviously a huge time in my life, a huge part of the beginning of my career," Jackson said. "Obviously it's going to be a huge game for myself and something I always looked forward to ever since everything went down the way it went down."

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