He'll never admit it, but rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson couldn't have imagined being worked this hard in the preseason.
For the second-straight game, Jackson led the team in receptions – this time with seven for 71 yards and returned five punts for 46 yards as the Eagles evened their preseason record with a 24-13 win over the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field. In two preseason games, Jackson has a dozen receptions - twice as many as any other receiver on the team - for 122 yards.
"I feel pretty comfortable. Coach Marty (Mornhinweg) has a lot of things in the offense for me," said Jackson. "I'm just trying to do my best and get open as much as possible. They're really helping me out and like I said, I just really feel comfortable out there."
In the preseason opener against the Steelers, Jackson's route running was limited primarily to out routes along the sidelines and crossing routes over the middle. Known for his blazing speed, the Eagles allowed Jackson to go deep Thursday night - and he nearly hauled in a bomb from McNabb in the first quarter but the ball was slightly overthrown. Jackson's flair for the dramatic, something that he was known for as a dynamic playmaker at Cal, nearly showed up when he went in the air for a pass, was knocked to the ground and nearly held on for the catch.
"The opportunity is there," said Jackson. "Marty and Coach (Andy) Reid have a lot of confidence in me and I just feel like I've been given a good opportunity to help this team. I have a lot of confidence in myself with what I've been through in my life so far and I'm just happy to be here and have guys backing me."
Jackson has already proved in the preseason that his 5-10, 175-pound frame can handle the punishment that the NFL can dish out. Reid praised Jackson for working through a sore leg after he fell on his knee trying to make a play. He also has shown the speed to provide a spark to the punt return game, the area where he's expected to make his biggest impact as a rookie. The 9.2 yards per punt return Thursday was better than the Eagles' average of 8.1 from a year ago.
Jackson has risen to the challenge presented by his coaches in the first two games. The question now is, how much more will the Eagles throw on his plate?