Winning in the NFL, DeSean Jackson has learned, takes more than talent alone. Armed with a new long-term contract, the Eagles Pro Bowl receiver has been a steady presence at the NovaCare Complex this offseason. After a disappointing 2011 season personally and for his team, Jackson believes the Eagles are putting in the work now to do big things in 2012.
"I think we've been so close to having a lot of success," Jackson said. "I think it's at our fingertips now. We just want to all be able to start early, not even just right now, but before when we came here in April and May, training down to June. You don't win Super Bowls in February, you win them in the offseason and that's something we're realizing and that we know, so we're all just putting in the work."
Entering his fifth season, Jackson is hoping that he can grow from being simply one of the league's preeminent playmakers to a positive influence on his teammates. After his preoccupation with his contract status last year, Jackson is prepared to move forward now and become, in some ways, one of the team leaders. In fact, Jackson said, the diminutive wide receiver was one of several veterans included in an offseason meeting with head coach Andy Reid about the leadership of the team moving forward.
"I think me being here going on my fifth year, me looking at myself as one of the leaders, I try to make an example for everybody and trying to push (LeSean) McCoy, Mike Vick, (Jeremy) Maclin, (Brent) Celek, Jason Avant," said Jackson. "I think we all do a great job of expecting nothing but the best out of each one of us. When one of us gets on each other, we don't look at it as anything negative, we look at it as a positive because we're able to challenge each other because of what type of group we are, how long we've been together.
"I think coach Reid does a great job behind doors of challenging our team and letting us know what's at stake. Everybody knows this year is big for us, so we all just want to be able to put in the work so when the time comes, we can look in each other's eye like we've been in this position, we've been through hard work, we've been through sweat and all that type of stuff. So as long as we're able to keep pushing and fighting together, I think we'll be alright."
In 2011, Jackson failed to surpass the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time since his rookie season and had only two 100-yard receiving games. The speedy Jackson is motivated to prove that those numbers were an outlier, rather than a downward trend.
"Going through my process last year was definitely tough. Sometimes I let certain things get to me, but in reality I shouldn't have let it but I'm looking forward in the future just knowing what to expect in myself, what my teammates need me for, what they expect out of me. So I think that's reality now, I put everything behind me, move forward and expect nothing but the best out of myself. Regardless of what the numbers are, as long as I can go out there, give my best effort, I think I'm doing my (due diligence)."
"I expect a big year from myself. This year is something I've been waiting for," he said. "I'm ready for training camp right now honestly and I'm ready to go into the season, just put up a lot of numbers for my team, as many as possible. I know this year is very important for the organization, the coaches, the players, everybody. It's big for everybody and I think everybody realizes that."
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