Jack­son hit­ting his stride at right time for Red­skins

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY STEPHEN WHYNO

ASHBURN | DeSean Jack­son turned 30 and turned his game up to an­other level.

For the first time in nine NFL sea­sons, Jack­son recorded 100-plus re­ceiv­ing yards in three con­sec­u­tive games and is hit­ting his stride just in time for the play­off-hope­ful Wash­ing­ton Red­skins. New York Gi­ants cor­ner­back Eli Ap­ple called Jack­son “prob­a­bly the best deep threat in the league,” a dec­la­ra­tion the num­bers back up.

Jack­son is one 60-plus-yard touch­down away from his 23rd, which would tie Hall of Famer Jerry Rice for the most in his­tory; he is also one 80-plus-yard touch­down away from the fifth of his ca­reer, which would tie Rice, Der­rick Alexan­der, Lance Al­worth and Bob Hayes. If Sun­day’s matchup against the Gi­ants is Jack­son’s fi­nal game in bur­gundy and gold, the pend­ing free agent is hit­ting the mar­ket play­ing some of the best foot­ball of his ca­reer.

“I guess I’m blessed to still be able to play this game and play at a high level,” said Jack­son, who added he’s OK af­ter leav­ing the Red­skins’ game Satur­day at Chicago with a jaw in­jury. “I still feel like I have all the at­tributes to be a dual threat in this league and to con­tinue to go out there and make big plays and help spark up the score­board for my team.”

Jack­son has 20 catches for 504 yards and two touch­downs in his past five games, which he said was sim­ply a re­sult of quar­ter­back Kirk Cousins throw­ing him the ball and him get­ting open. Cousins knows he can find Jack­son down the field as the speed piece of a re­ceiv­ing corps that in­cludes pos­ses­sion ma­chine Pierre Gar­con, Jami­son Crow­der and hard-to-cover tight end Jor­dan Reed.

The con­tracts of Jack­son and Gar­con are up af­ter this sea­son, but the veter­ans in­sist they’re try­ing not to think about what’s to come with their fo­cus on the vir­tual win-and-in reg­u­larsea­son fi­nale Sun­day against the Gi­ants. Wash­ing­ton would make the play­offs with a vic­tory as long as Green Bay and Detroit don’t play to a tie Sun­day night.

While Jack­son has his mind on New York, he cer­tainly isn’t naive to the re­ports that he’d be in­ter­ested in re­turn­ing to the Philadel­phia Ea­gles next sea­son as for­mer team­mates vouch for that.

“I guess on that end they’re ex­cited and happy, but I’m fo­cused on be­ing a Red­skin and fin­ish­ing strong and once free agency comes we’ll see how it plays out,” Jack­son said Wed­nes­day. “I’m def­i­nitely in­trigued about see­ing what’s go­ing to hap­pen, test the mar­ket and see what’s go­ing on.”

Re­ceivers typ­i­cally don’t pro­duce like this at 30, but Jack­son’s mar­ket value is sig­nif­i­cant. He has 971 yards and four touch­downs this sea­son and is get­ting bet­ter with age and ex­pe­ri­ence, ac­cord­ing to Gi­ants coach Ben McA­doo, who called Jack­son a spe­cial tal­ent.

“He’s open, or he usu­ally helps other guys come open, with his deep speed,” McA­doo said. “He at­tracts a lot of at­ten­tion that way, and his tree is get­ting big­ger. He can do a lot more things in the pass game as far as route-run­ning than he used to be able to do. He’s fit­ting nicely into the sys­tem and he’s a guy that can ex­plode on you if you’re not care­ful.”

New York safety Lan­don Collins said Jack­son “lulls guys to sleep” with his speed that he can sum­mon when needed. Jack­son had a 44-yard touch­down in the Red­skins’ Week 3 meet­ing with the Gi­ants and has shown no signs of slow­ing down since.

“He’s not slowed down at all,” Wash­ing­ton coach Jay Gru­den said. “Some­times when he’s jog­ging it looks like he’s run­ning 100 miles an hour.”

NOTES: The team put safety Donte Whit­ner (quadri­ceps) on sea­son-end­ing in­jured reserve and signed safety Josh Evans . ... Linebacker/safety Su’a Cravens (up­per arm), de­fen­sive end Chris Baker (an­kle) and cor­ner­back Quin­ton Dun­bar (con­cus­sion) did not prac­tice Wed­nes­day. Gru­den said it was “not look­ing good” for Cravens to play Sun­day . ... Run­ning back Robert Kel­ley was lim­ited in prac­tice with a knee in­jury as Gru­den said the team would take it slow and have a bet­ter idea of his sta­tus Fri­day . ... Reed was lim­ited in prac­tice with a sprained left shoul­der that caused him to miss the Bears game. Gru­den said Reed is mak­ing progress and “tak­ing the right steps to re­cov­ery.”

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