Is DeSean Jackson animated and, at times, antagonistic when he's performing on the football field? Absolutely. But that's the thing, he prefers to do his talking through his actions. So when Jackson is asked by reporters about the comments of New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle, who said he's "handled DeSean Jackson one-on-one before, I don't see why I wouldn't be able to do it again," the Pro Bowl wide receiver refuses to take the bait.
"Our coaches coach us up better than that," Jackson said. "We don't trash talk, you'll see on Sunday."
The last time Jackson touched the football in a game against the Giants, he authored perhaps the most memorable chapter in a storied rivalry as he dashed into the end zone with no time remaining, providing the first walkoff punt return for a touchdown in NFL history and, in the process, christening the New Meadowlands with a fresh miracle. But nine months later, Jackson won't even gloat about that play.
"That's last year," he said, "We're on a new year."
Over seven games, including playoffs, Jackson has averaged 3.6 catches and 71.4 yards against the Giants and has only one game with over 100 yards receiving. More importantly, the Eagles are 6-1 in those games. So even if Rolle harbors some notion that he helped control Jackson's productivity in 2010, Jackson knows what really matters.
"Good job," he said, "We got the victory."
It's a sign that Jackson has matured in this, his fourth NFL season. Eagles fans will remember in 2009 when Jackson sent a bravado-filled tweet about the Dallas Cowboys in between the Eagles' season-ending losses to their rivals. Jackson, meanwhile, has faced his fair share of trash talkers before. Recall Redskins safety LaRon Landry, who chirped at Jackson before last season's Monday Night Football game in Washington. Jackson retaliated on the first play of the game by hauling in an 88-yard touchdown pass over Landry and prancing backwards into the end zone while Landry lay helpless on the ground.
"It adds a little fuel to the fire, but you still have to go out there on Sunday and perform and play," he said. "I'm just looking forward to the opportunity, especially after last week and losing. So we're just anxiously waiting for Sunday and I think everybody's ready to get back out there and redeem ourselves because we know we're a better football team."
Beyond the trash talk, the intra-division rivalry and the bitter taste of last week's loss, Jackson and the Eagles will have one more added piece of motivation Sunday - their fans. Sunday afternoon, the Giants face the unenviable task of playing the Eagles in front of a raucous fan base that has been waiting to see this team in action up close.
"I'm very excited about that," Jackson said, "First game of the year here at home. The fans are super pumped up and I think they'll be ready to go this week."
And rest assured, so will Jackson.