They’ve given him maintenance days, they’ve given him rest days, they’ve monitored his snaps at practice, they’ve limited him in games, and still DeSean Jackson is hurt.
Jackson, 33, can still run when he’s healthy. But lately, he can't stay healthy.
We all know about last year, when he had a spectacular return to the Eagles after a five-year absence, catching TD passes of 51 and 53 yards in the season opener against Washington.
But he suffered a core muscle injury a week later in Atlanta and essentially missed the rest of the season.
This year, the Eagles gave him only 37 reps in the opener against Washington, but he played 55 against the Rams and caught 6-for-64. Then he lasted only 28 snaps against the Bengals before injuring his hamstring in the second quarter and hasn’t played since.
Jackson hasn’t played 50 snaps in back-to-back games since October of 2017 with the Buccaneers.
Since Week 2 of last year, he’s played 134 of a possible 1,451 snaps - about 9 percent of the Eagles’ snaps in their last 20 games.
He has 11 catches for 121 yards and no touchdowns in those 20 games.
“It’s tough,” Carson Wentz said Wednesday. “Injuries are a part of this game that (are) unfortunate, and D-Jack has had quite the career, he’s stayed relatively healthy, and everyone knows what he’s capable of doing, and so obviously it’s tough to not have him out on the field, but we get it. I’ve dealt with injuries, everyone’s gone through an injury at some point in time, and so we’ll see how he is, we’ll see how he keeps progressing. But I feel there’s great chemistry when he is on the field with him and I.”
Jackson has only played 16 games twice in 13 seasons – 2008 and 2013 - but until last year he did average 14 games per year.
He missed 15 games from 2013 through 2018. He’s already missed more than that since returning to Philly.
The only Eagles wide receivers 33 and older to catch 15 passes in a season are Roy Green in 1991, Harold Carmichael twice and Irving Fryar three times.
Head coach Doug Pederson said Jackson will participate in individual work at practice Wednesday but wouldn’t speculate when he'll be able to participate in team drills or whether there's any chance he’ll be available when the Eagles face the Steelers on Sunday.
“It’s just a matter of just continuing to manage him, make sure that he’s more than 100 percent as he enters himself back into practice and gets himself acclimated again,” Pederson said. “And honestly it’s going to be something that we’re going to have to monitor with him and he’s going to have to monitor and make sure we’re giving him enough rest during the week to prepare for Sunday.”
But the thing is they have been doing that.
The Eagles gave Jackson rest days the Wednesday after the opener and the Wednesday after the Rams game, and he hasn’t practiced since the Bengals game.
So he’s practiced exactly four times since opening day - the Thursday and Friday after the Washington and Rams games.
And he’s still dealing with a nagging hamstring injury and starting another week without participating in team drills.
Jackson, who turns 34 in December, had five 1,000-yard seasons and made two Pro Bowls his first nine years in the league. He hasn’t caught more than 50 passes or had more than 774 yards since 2016 with Washington.
He ranks fourth in Eagles history with 6,397 yards, and his 17.3 career average is sixth-highest in NFL history. His 32 touchdowns of 50 yards or more are second-most ever, behind Jerry Rice's 38.
Jackson is 16 games into a three-year, $27.8 million contract. He’s due $8.2 million next year with a cap figure of nearly $11 million. The Eagles would clear about $5.1 million in cap space if they released him after this season.
Pederson said he’s still confident Jackson can play at a high level without getting hurt.
“My confidence level is high,” Pederson said. “He knows how to practice, he knows how to play. It’s a situation where he’s a speed guy and he has to make sure and we have to make sure that we’re giving him the proper amount of rest. He’s got to stay in the weight room, part of it can be in the weight room, part of it is getting treatment and then continuing to just slowly bring him along each week, and this is part of the maintenance plan that we do with guys. … This is what we have to do to make sure these guys are healthy for the entire season.”