Pass­ing combo looks good

Orlando Sentinel - - NBA / NFL -

and just call in over the phone, I wanted to be here and be face and show.”

Wasn’t this sup­posed to be a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship any­way? Jack­son go­ing deep (well, maybe not all the way to Cal­i­for­nia) and Win­ston throw­ing the ball as far as he can. In fact, al­ready they are get­ting closer, which may make it eas­ier to com­plete balls fur­ther down­field. Last week, Win­ston spent two days throw­ing foot­balls to Jack­son in Tal­la­has­see.

“I was able to get out and check out their fa­cil­ity at Florida State,’’ Jack­son said. “I grew up a Florida State fan, so it was pretty cool to go check that out as well. So, it was def­i­nitely a nice col­lege town.”

This all makes for a great photo op in March, but let’s see if they can co-ex­ist dur­ing the ups and downs of a 16-game reg­u­lar sea­son.

Koet­ter re­cently said he put to­gether a tape of all the times that Jack­son did his job. Time and time again, Jack­son won his route, got sep­a­ra­tion or be­hind the de­fense. The foot­ball didn’t find him.

“As far as my job, be­ing a pro­fes­sional, all you can do is worry about your­self,’’ Jack­son said. “I’m sure ev­ery­body could do their job bet­ter. That’s be­ing hu­man. I feel I prob­a­bly could have done some things bet­ter, too.

“But on the over­all sheet, I think I did a good job of go­ing out and keep­ing my cool, not blow­ing a fuse from my early days when peo­ple prob­a­bly said, ‘He’s a can­cer,’ and things like that. So I’ve learned a lot. But it’s def­i­nitely frus­trat­ing if you feel like you’re a guy in this league and you make big plays and you can’t get those big plays.’’

There were ques­tions about his com­mit­ment last sea­son, es­pe­cially when the los­ing started.

Did Jack­son al­ways prac­tice hard? Did he set an ex­am­ple for younger play­ers? Did he fight back from an an­kle in­jury to play against Carolina on Christ­mas Eve? How about for the sea­son fi­nale against New Or­leans?

One guy who did play hurt in those games was rookie Chris God­win. Start­ing for Jack­son, he com­bined to catch 10 passes for 209 yards and the gamewin­ning TD against the Saints.

The Bucs re­ally don’t have many op­tions with Jack­son. Even if they were in­clined to move on, they face a $7.5-mil­lion hit on their salary cap. Only about $1 mil­lion would likely be off­set by the team that would sign him.

Win­ston and Koet­ter and gen­eral man­ager Ja­son Licht all want a mul­li­gan with Jack­son. The Bucs were 3-7 in one-score games last sea­son, and one or two more plays a game by Jack­son could be the dif­fer­ence in the out­come.

Jack­son says he will have a sim­ple ap­proach head­ing into 2018.

“Just have fun, just go up there and light up the score­board and fire the can­nons,” Jack­son said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

PHE­LAN M. EBENHACK/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

DeSean Jack­son (11) and Jameis Win­ston are work­ing to build a rap­port this off­sea­son.

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