The Philadelphia Eagles are banking on DeSean Jackson to be the reliable deep threat for Carson Wentz in 2020, opening up the team’s new-look offense based on speed and stretching the field with deep ball wide receivers. If Friday’s training camp practice was any indication of how good Jackson can be at 33 years old, Eagles fans are in for a real treat.
The only problem with Jackson providing a highlight reel play? It came at the expense of Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay.
Former Pro Bowl wide receiver Chad Johnson shared a video of Jackson beating Slay on a deep ball in camp. The matchup between Jackson and Slay will be a fun battle throughout Eagles camp, but this one wasn’t even close.
Jackson used the hesitation step off the snap that allowed him to record 24 touchdown catches of 60-plus yards in his career, the most in NFL history. Once he got Slay to bend, he exploded past him for an easy touchdown (on a strong pass from Wentz) that turned some heads in Eagles camp.
Again, this wasn’t a second or third-string cornerback. This was Slay, one of the best cornerbacks in football.
If Jackson can beat Slay with ease, NFL defensive backs will be put on notice in 2020. Injuries have halted Jackson’s production the last two seasons, but he’s still dangerous when he takes the field. Jackson had eight catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ season-opening win over Washington, but played just 14 snaps the remainder of last season. Jackson missed four games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018, even though he led the league with 18.9 yards per catch at 32 years old.
The Eagles are excited to see what a motivated Jackson can do as a wide receiver that still wants to keep his reputation as the best deep ball wide receiver in the game.
“I think we have a good plan for DeSean and how to maximize his potential and his difference making ability,” said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman earlier this offseason. “I know he is working right now. From the end of the season he was in our building when he could be, working really hard. He has a chip on his shoulder and obviously we are big fans of his and his talent level.”
Slay vows this won’t be a common occurrence. The Eagles cornerback is just shaking off the rust.
The Eagles defense allowed a 90.8 passer rating and 2,586 total air yards on completions last season, which was eighth-most in the NFL. Philadelphia traded a third- and fifth-round pick for Slay and signed him to a contract extension — making him the highest-paid cornerback in terms of average annual salary — to improve that aspect of the secondary.
There’s no reason to worry about Jackson beating Slay with ease early in camp (Jackson tends to do that to a lot of cornerbacks), but it will be intriguing to see how Slay adjusts after he gets into football shape.