Eagles Remain Optimistic on DeSean Jackson Return
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - While there are still hurdles left to overcome the Eagles are 'optimistic" DeSean Jackson will be back in the lineup Sunday when the Chicago Bears visit Lincoln Financial Field.
Sidelined since the early moments of the Week 2 game in Atlanta, Jackson practiced in a limited fashion on both Wednesday and Thursday.
“I'm optimistic that he'll play,” coach Doug Pederson said Friday morning before practice at the NovaCare Complex. “We're gonna get through today again. He's had a great week of practice. He's been limited on the injury report all week, so we'll get through today and tomorrow, and we're optimistic that he can play.”
Earlier in the week, Jackson told reporters he would address questions sometime later in the buildup to Chicago but declined that option on Thursday when spotted in the locker room.
The speedy receiver who is one of the best deep threats in NFL history was spectacular in a season-opening win over Washington with eight receptions for 154 yards and two deep home run balls but was hurt early against the Falcons. He chose rehab over surgery and understands he will be playing through some discomfort whenever the return is.
With the Eagles bye looming after the game against Chicago there was some thought that the organization might play it cautious and give injured players another few weeks to heal but Pederson downplayed that notion.
"I think if they're available to play, they play," the coach explained. "I don't think you can wait. Every game's too important to win, especially where we are with our win-loss record. If they're able to play, play them."
If Jackson is on the field, both the coaching and training staff will keep a keen eye on him.
“Yeah, it's something we'll have to sort of monitor,” Pederson said. “But as we've always said, too, the guys that dress will play, so we'll see.”
Friday's practice went well enough that Jackson did talk with reporters.
"[Playing] is the plan right now," Jackson explained. "It's been a long process so we'll see how it goes."
Pederson also grouped defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (foot) and running back Darren Sproles (quad) into the same category as Jackson when it comes to the Bears game. Jernigan, like Jackson, was also injured in Week 2, while Sproles exited in Week 5 against the New York Jets. Both players were limited participants in practice this week like Jackson.
“[Jernigan is] in that same boat,” Pederson said. “He's had a good week of preparation, good week of practice, so again, get through today, another good day today, we'll see where he's at.”
Pederson did rule out two Eagles Friday -- left tackle Jason Peters (knee) and linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle). Peters’ absence means rookie Andre Dillard will make his third straight start at left tackle, while Nathan Gerry is again expected to step in for Bradham at Mike LB.
The one injured player confirmed as returning is cornerback Avonte Maddox, who suffered a scary neck injury and concussion after taking a friendly-fire hit from Andrew Sendejo late in a Week 4 win over Green Bay.
Pederson said Maddox will return to his spot as the team’s nickel corner this weekend, the third consecutive week Jim Schwartz has gotten back a starting corner for his embattled seconding following Jalen Mills in Dallas and Ronald Darby in Buffalo.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen