When on the field, DeSean Jackson easily remains one of the top deep threats in the NFL. He hopes that in 2016, he'll be able to have one of the best seasons of an already fruitful career.
DeSean Jackson is doing everything in his power to ensure he's on the field more during the 2016 season than the 2015 season, a year in which he appeared in a career low 10 games after suffering a hamstring injury in the season opener.
While Jackson is easily one of the best deep threats in NFL history, he's dedicated a portion of this offseason to getting a little bit stronger. The goal is that his body will hold up for a complete 16-game regular season schedule a little bit better.
On Monday, he showcased his hard work for the first time in front of his Redskins teammates at OTAs.
"I've dedicated my offseason to getting in the weight room and getting a little more physical just to keep the durability up during the year," Jackson told Larry Michael, Voice of the Redskins, on "Redskins Nation" this week. "Even though I haven't been here that much, I have dedicated my time to that. You hear the reports that I forfeited my workout bonus and would have loved to be here, but my family is something on the other side of the spectrum that pays off big, too."
In the first quarter of the Redskins' Opening Day matchup with the Miami Dolphins, quarterback Kirk Cousins tried to locate Jackson down the right sideline for one of his classic deep catches.
Beating Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes by a step, Jackson extended for a potential highlight reel catch.
Instead, the ball soared just over his head and Jackson came up limp. He wouldn't be seen on the field again until Week 9.
"That injury was something I hope I never have to witness again," Jackson said. "For a guy like me, my speed is everything on that field. It was just an unfortunate injury because as much as I wanted to get back out there with the team, I wasn't at full speed and if I'm not at that 100 percent speed, then it's not good for me out on that field. I came back midway through the season and I did some great things to help my team, help to get us in a position to have a stretch run for the playoffs. It ended kind of short, losing that playoff game I thought we could've won, but we've learned and I think this year we will come into the season knowing what we got to do."
Jackson's speed provides an entirely different layer to the offense. With defenses constantly keeping an eye on the three-time Pro Bowler's whereabouts, other players like tight end Jordan Reed get favorable matchups.
Once Jackson returned to the lineup for the final nine regular season games, Reed totaled eight of his 11 touchdown receptions, a breakout performance that merited a long-term contract extension.
"Jordan Reed did a heck of a job last year," Jackson said. "He's rewarded with a great contract and things like that. There's a lot of intangibles on this team -- Kirk Cousins being rewarded -- a lot of guys been rewarded for doing things they deserve. Like I said, hopefully we can bring it all together as one we've got a great coach with Jay Gruden he's doing a great job of challenging guys out there. It's my second day back and I've just been seeing how fast the team's working, you know he's putting us in positions to go out there and do greatness."
Jackson is also excited to build off what he's created with Cousins, who has an arm strong enough and accurate enough to place the ball perfectly into his hands on long throws.
"I think the sky's the limit for him," Jackson said. "He's going on [his] second year starting and he's been here. He's been playing a lot of games as far as I can recall, but to really have... the games under your belt, is basically what you need in a quarterback to say he's been in games where he's been through stuff, he's taken a team to the playoffs, he's made mistakes, he's had success. That's all the intangibles you want in a quarterback. …He's a leader, he's a guy you want in your huddle when the game's on, because he's going to be there to tell everybody what we need to do and go out there and execute it."