Frus­trated Jack­son not giv­ing up on play­off hopes

The Capital - - SPORTS - By Fred Goodall AP Sports Writer

TAMPA, Fla. — DeSean Jack­son’s frus­tra­tion grows by the loss.

The Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers have dropped five of six games fol­low­ing a 2-0 start, and the vet­eran re­ceiver doesn’t want any­one to buy the no­tion that all it’ll take to make him happy is to catch more passes Sun­day against the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins.

The Bucs (3-5) haven’t made the play­offs since 2007, and the only way to change that trend is to start win­ning.

Jack­son, who signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent in 2017 af­ter spend­ing the pre­vi­ous three sea­sons with the Red­skins, thinks he can make a dif­fer­ence. He fielded ques­tions this week for the first time since he re­port­edly asked to be traded last month.

“What­ever them con­ver­sa­tions were, they were be­tween us,” Jack­son, when asked if he ap­proached gen­eral man­ager Ja­son Licht be­fore the Oct. 30 NFL trade dead­line.

“It’s over and done with now, and I’m look­ing for­ward,” the five-time 1,000-yard re­ceiver added. “We’ve got eight games left to con­tinue to try our best to get in the play­offs and win here.”

The 11th-year pro has re­bounded from a sub­par de­but with Tampa Bay a year ago to av­er­age 22.4 yards per re­cep­tion in 2018.

But since be­gin­ning the sea­son with con­sec­u­tive 100-yard per­for­mances, that in­cluded TD catches of 58 and 75 yards in vic­to­ries over New Or­leans and Philadel­phia, the 31-year-old’s pro­duc­tion has cur­tailed.

Through eight games, Jack­son has 28 catches for 626 yards and four touch­downs, in­clud­ing a 60-yard scor­ing re­cep­tion against Cincin­nati that gave him the most TDs of 60-plus yards (24) in NFL his­tory.

At the risk of sound­ing self­ish, Jack­son con­cedes he would like to be more in­volved in the of­fense. He be­gan his ca­reer in Philadel­phia, where he had three 1,000yard sea­sons in six years. He had two in three sea­sons with the Red­skins.

“It’s just know­ing what’s in this locker room, know­ing the play­ers we have all across the board. That’s been more of the frus­tra­tion for me,” Jack­son said. “It’s not in­di­vid­ual. It’s more (about) ac­com­plish­ing what we all want to ac­com­plish.”

The NFC East-lead­ing Red­skins (5-3) are com­ing off a lop­sided loss to At­lanta that snapped a three-game win­ning streak.

Bounc­ing back on the road doesn’t fig­ure to be easy af­ter los­ing three starters — re­ceiver Paul Richard­son and guards Bran­don Scherff and Shawn Lau­vao — to sea­son-end­ing in­juries against the Fal­cons.

Alex Smith is com­ing off throw­ing for a sea­son-best 306 yards last week, and coach Jay Gru­den is count­ing on lead­ing rusher Adrian Peter­son’s skill and ex­pe­ri­ence to help him to ad­just to changes of the of­fen­sive line and con­tinue to be pro­duc­tive.

“He just goes through his reads like he nor­mally would. It doesn’t mat­ter who’s block­ing for him — at guard, cen­ter, tackle, tight end, full­back or re­ceiver,” Gru­den said. “He’s just go­ing to go through his pro­gres­sions and make his cuts and do what he does.”

Some things to know about the Red­skins and Buc­ca­neers:

NICE TO MEET YOU

Af­ter plac­ing Scherff and Lau­vao on in­jured re­serve Mon­day be­cause they need sea­son-end­ing surg­eries, and with left tackle Trent Wil­liams re­cov­er­ing from an op­er­a­tion on his right thumb, the Red­skins RED­SKINS @ BUCS

TV: Line: Ra­dio: are putting to­gether a makeshift of­fen­sive line. They signed three un­em­ployed line­men — tackle Austin Howard, along with guards Jonathan Cooper and Luke Bowanko — and at least one is ex­pected to start Sun­day.

“The big thing, I think, is on the road, crowd noise, against a good D-line,” Smith said. “I think those things, all the calls, all the com­mu­ni­ca­tion that has to take place — run, pass, third down — all the dif­fer­ent looks, the thou­sands and thou­sands of reps that we’ve had — you try to con­dense into a few days to get ready.”

FITZMAGIC

Ryan Fitz­patrick will make his sixth start of the sea­son at quar­ter­back for the Bucs, who benched Jameis Win­ston af­ter a road loss to Cincin­nati two weeks ago. Tampa Bay has been outscored 103-27 in the first half of Fitz­patrick’s past three starts — all losses.

Like Smith, Fitz­patrick is in his 14th sea­son. Smith was the first pick in the 2005 draft. Fitz­patrick was a sev­enth-round pick, No. 250 over­all.

“He was 249 picks be­fore I was,” Fitz­patrick said, “but we’re both still here.”

CAN PETER­SON BOUNCE BACK?

Peter­son en­tered this week fifth in the league in rush­ing with 604 yards at age 33, but he is com­ing off a poor game: He only ran nine times for 17 yards in the loss to At­lanta. Things might not be easy with a re­con­structed O-line.

“I al­ways say: The play looked great in prac­tice when you draw it up and you run through it at prac­tice. But when you’ve got guys com­ing at 100 mph, things change,” Peter­son said.

NO COME­BACKS YET

The Red­skins have not man­aged to win a game in which they’ve trailed this sea­son. And dur­ing Gru­den’s 4 1/2 years in Wash­ing­ton, the team only has 15 come­from-be­hind vic­to­ries; only five clubs have fewer in that span.

“That’s some­thing that we have got to do a bet­ter job of,” Gru­den said.

NELL RED­MOND/AP

Carolina’s Donte Jack­son in­ter­cepts a pass in­tended for Tampa Bay’s DeSean Jack­son in the sec­ond half in Char­lotte, N.C., last week. Jack­son, who signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent in 2017 af­ter spend­ing the pre­vi­ous three sea­sons with the Red­skins, thinks he can make a dif­fer­ence in the Bucs reach­ing the play­offs for the first time since 2007.

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