Expectations Unfair But OK, DeSean Says
Andy Reid made it plain Friday that rookie wideout DeSean Jackson is held to a higher standard than most rookies.
Make no mistake -- Andy Reid sat down hard on rookie wideout DeSean Jackson after that display of arm-waving frustration last Sunday at Washington, followed by the end-zone drop of what would have been the game-tying TD pass in the final minute.
Had to hurt a little, too; DeSean's a skinny little fellow, who took a big hit in the ribs during the game. You have to figure Big Red comes up somewhere close to three times Jackson's body weight these days.
Marty Mornhinweg addressed the matter with reporters Thursday, and Reid was asked about it Friday, as the Eagles held an abbreviated practice in preparation for Sunday's season finale against the Cowboys.
"This past game, you're saying? He needs to do better, whether you're a rookie or not a rookie," Reid said. "You need to do better. When you have an opportunity to make a play, you make a play. There are no excuses for it. He won't give you any excuses. He has always been a big-time player in big-time situations. He will do that here. It didn't work out for him on Sunday. You have to learn from it and move on and do better this week."
Jackson, with 60 catches for 866 yards, is three yards shy of tight end Keith Jackson's franchise rookie receiving yardage record. Keith Jackson caught 81 passes in 1988, so DeSean isn't getting that mark, but 60 is the most ever by an Eagles rookie wideout.
Nobody foresaw Jackson being this important to the offense when the season began. And that might not be entirely a good thing; the Birds, short on game-changing weapons, have needed every catch and every yard the rookie could provide, and they could have used even more.
"I am being held to a higher standard than everybody else," Jackson said Friday, agreeing with a questioner's premise. "I don't have a choice; I've just got to bow up and handle my business like I need to."
Asked what he'd learned from the experience, Jackson said: "One play at a time. If I'm open or something like that, I can't really get too excited. I've just got to stay calm and wait for the one play to come. You never know when that one play will come. That was the biggest thing last week. I kind of felt I was open a couple of times, they didn't get me the ball, then at a crucial time, it kind of came to me, and my mind was kind of messed up. So it was just basically the mindset; I've got to just know how important one play is. One play can be a big difference.
"I'm the type of person, I kind of held that on myself. I didn't blame it on anybody else, or didn't say that what they've been having me do all year's been too much for me. People don't really realize, what I've done this year has definitely been a big step for me. But you know, it's just one step, and we're going to just keep moving forward."
Finally, someone asked the question that had been hanging in the air during Jackson's remarks. Has too much been expected from the second-round draft pick from Cal, as the punt returner and the leading receiver?
"Overall, that is the case, but with being myself, it's not (more than) I'm able to do," Jackson said. "I can just go out there and do what I can do. If they ask me to do something, and I feel it's too much, I'm not the person to say, 'No, I can't do this.' or 'This might be too much.' Me and (wide receivers) coach (David) Culley, we talked about it. He kind of said, 'We have been doing too (many) things with you, but we don't have a choice, you're our playmaker. That's the role that I had to choose. I've just got to go out there and do what I do ... make plays and help this team win football games."
Jackson said he "wanted everything they threw my way -- the success, to help the team, to show everybody I'm not too small, things like that. It definitely worked both ways."
Meanwhile, middle linebacker Stewart Bradley (rib, groin) is listed as "questionable" for Sunday, but Bradley said he expects to be able to play. Tight end L.J. Smith is doubtful with a shoulder injury, in what might very well be his last game as an Eagle. WR Hank Baskett (knee) is questionable, as is FS Brian Dawkins, who missed the last few days of preparation with the flu. Hard to see Dawk not playing, though, in what could be the last Eagles game of his memorable career.