During Super Bowl week in New Orleans, Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson
was asked what he thought his role would be in new head coach Chip Kelly's offense.
"Kind of similar to what De'Anthony Thomas
was doing (for Kelly) at Oregon,'' Jackson said.
Jackson's comment raised eyebrows in Philadelphia because Thomas was used as both a running back and a wide receiver by Kelly last year, but mainly as a running back.
Thomas caught a team-high 45 passes and often lined up wide and in the slot. But he also carried the ball 92 times for 701 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The thought of the fragile Jackson carrying the ball anywhere close to that many times seems absurd. While his measurables -- 5-9 3/4, 171 pounds -- are in the same neighborhood as Thomas's (5-9, 175), Thomas has a much thicker body.
Early in his career, the Eagles tried using Jackson as a sometimes runner on end-around or counter plays and on direct snaps out of the Wildcat formation.
While he was often effective -- he averaged 12.5 yards per carry on 11 rushing attempts in his second NFL season in 2009, he mainly lined up outside.
Two concussions and several other injuries convinced then coach Andy Reid to use Jackson primarily as a deep threat. He had just 10 carries in 2011-12, including three for minus-7 yards in 11 games last year.
So far, Kelly has been purposely vague about his plans for his offense and defense. But during a recent interview at the league meetings in Phoenix, he didn't sound like a guy who intends to have Jackson carry the ball much, if at all, this season.
"I think (Thomas and Jackson) are both similar in size and are fast, but DeSean is a wide receiver and De'Anthony is a running back,'' Kelly said.
"When we got De'Anthony, we looked at some of his traits and thought it was beneficial to get him involved (as a wide receiver) because we have (running backs) LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner (and were asking ourselves), how do we get them on the field at the same time.
"DeSean's kind of a wide receiver/running back, but I don't know if he has those qualities of a (running back). De'Anthony has been a running back his entire life, and my understanding is DeSean has been a receiver his entire life. So they are not similar from that standpoint.''
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- DeSean Jackson
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