DeSean Jackson will take the field for the Redskins for the first time this year when they play the Dolphins in their NFL season opener on Sunday. The wide receiver, who led the team in receiving yards in 2014 with 1,169, sprained an AC joint going to the ground during joint practices with the Texans on August 6 in Richmond.
At the time Jay Gruden said that the injury would keep him out for one or two weeks. But Jackson did not play in any of the four preseason games and either did not practice or practiced on a limited basis for much of the time since then. Both Gruden and Jackson said that the light workload was being implemented as a precaution to make sure he is ready for the regular season.
It appears that Jackson is healthy. His name has not been on the injury report this week, meaning that he fully participated in practice. But he is not necessarily 100 percent ready to play a full game.
Gruden was asked on Thursday if Jackson would play the whole game against Miami.
“Yesterday’s practice was a great look,” he said. “It was really hot out there. You can see that he got winded a little bit. DeSean winded is not a very good DeSean. We’ve got to make sure he’s fresh. When he’s in there, he’s got to be ready to stretch the defense out, block when he needs to block but he won’t be very effective if he’s tired but I think he’s in good shape. He had a really good day today, really good today running around out there. I feel good about where he’s at. I also feel good about if he is a little tired, Ryan Grant and Andre Roberts and Jamison Crowder — I feel good about them coming in for him. Our depth at receiver is excellent, also.”
That sounds like a longer way of saying, “probably not”.
It will be interesting to see who gets the snaps when Jackson is on the sideline catching his breath. Last year the Redskins ran with three wide receivers 61 percent of the time so there will be two wide receivers out there with Pierre Garçon on the majority of the snaps. Who gets the action when Jackson is out?
Andre Roberts is likely to be one of the receivers with Garçon. He can line up in the slot or outside. If he is in the slot that probably brings Grant into the game. Gruden has called Grant “his favorite” because he works hard and runs his pass routes exactly how they are supposed to be run. He is not going to stretch the defense out like Jackson can but perhaps he can move the chaings
Crowder is capable of getting deep and it seems that Gruden is anxious to see what he can do. The coach was asked about the Redskins’ progress toward the team’s stated goal of getting tougher and more physical. He brought up the draft and talked of bringing in 270-pound OLB Preston Smith, big, physical RB Matt Jones, and the 5-8, 185-lb. Crowder.
“Crowder is a tough sucker,” said Gruden. “He’s not big, but he’s tough.”
Jackson is likely to be in for most of the snaps and his snap count will increase over the next few weeks until he gets up to his usual workload. Crowder and Grant will need to take advantage of the limited opportunity in front of them.