Nearly seven weeks after suffering an abdominal injury 11 snaps into a prime-time loss in Atlanta, wide receiver DeSean Jackson is “playing right now” as he eyes this Sunday's game against Chicago. Unless he isn’t.
Jackson was cautiously optimistic he will suit up for the Bears game after taking part in practice all week, albeit in a limited capacity. So, officially, we’ll know at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, 90 minutes before kickoff when teams submit their inactive lists, if Jackson is going. And if he is, well, let’s see what kind of impact he can make against an outstanding Bears defense that is solid in every phase of the game.
“I’m playing right now. It’s definitely been a long process,” Jackson said. “We’ll see how it goes. It’s just a thing I’m dealing with right now. Not too many answers for it. It’s an uncommon injury. I’m trying to do everything I can to take care of it and get it right.
“It’s part of the game we play. We have things that pop up. You put all your hard work into taking care of your body and doing things you need to, but sometimes things pop up.”
Even with the uncertainty, Jackson is excited that he’s closer to playing.
“It’s been a while. I know the hard work I’ve put into being a professional and playing at a high level,” Jackson said. “I don’t want to get myself over-amped up. I’m just going through the process I need to go through to get to where I need to get to to help my team.
“I’m just taking the right steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s definitely been tough.”
Was it really eight weeks ago when Jackson made his return to the Eagles in such spectacular fashion, catching eight passes for 154 yards, including touchdowns of 53 and 51 yards? Jackson was in the end zone rolling and celebrating and high-fiving his way up the sidelines in his first game as an Eagle since the team acquired him in a trade with Tampa Bay in March.
The perfect return really was happening.
And then Jackson left the field after playing just 11 snaps in the Week 2 game in Atlanta, and he hasn’t been in a game since. Hadn’t talked to the media until Friday, either. A difficult injury to pinpoint, Jackson’s abdominal issue is also difficult to treat and, thus, it has become inexact as to when he would return.
Now that he’s close to stepping back on the field, Jackson is cautious in his outlook. He practiced all week and “is taking it one day at a time.”
Jackson went through “everything I’ve been asked to go through at practice" and has “taken reps” during the course of the week. He said that the “biggest thing about this is not trying to overdo it or do too much. You’ve got to work your way back into it, build it up. That’s what I’ve been doing and it’s been going pretty well.”
Having Jackson back in the lineup would add a vertical threat, of course, and it would alter the way defenses play the Eagles. With Jackson out, the offense has struggled to have an over-the-top consistency in the passing game. Quarterback Carson Wentz has taken shots, with little success.
Jackson, when he’s healthy, changes that picture considerably.
So, will Jackson play?
“I'm optimistic that he'll play,” head coach Doug Pederson said on Friday morning. “We are going to get through today, again. He's had a great week of practice. He's been limited on the injury report all week. We'll get through today and tomorrow and we're optimistic that he can play.”
Optimistic, yes. Ready to make a definitive statement? Uh, not quite yet. Sunday morning, we’ll know for sure if No. 10 is back, ready to electrify the Lincoln Financial Field crowd and inject his big-play skills into the offensive plan.