BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- DeSean Jackson could show up at the NovaCare Complex on Sept. 10, jump on the team charter to St. Louis without a single practice, and catch four passes for 173 yards without breaking a sweat against the Rams on opening day.
Thats just who he is.
So as holdouts go, this one wont be a huge headache for the Eagles. Heck, Andy Reid would never admit it, but hed probably rather have Jackson back in L.A. tweeting about his 10,000 bar tabs than running pass patterns in live drills on the grass fields at Lehigh.
Mike Quick held out from training camp more often in his brilliant career than he showed up. Never bothered him.
Why should I be at training camp? Quick used to say. You could get hurt out there. You cant get hurt holding out.
Corey Simon missed 2 12 weeks of training camp in 2000 and then showed up and had the best rookie season any Eagle defensive tackle has ever had.
Brian Westbrook sat out the first week and a half at Lehigh in 2005 and was in midseason form in his first practice.
Heck, in 2006, we watched A.J. Feeley go 9-for-12 passing for 131 yards in a preseason game against the Jets one day after signing with the Eagles. He threw four passes for 69 yards to Darnerien McCants, then admitted after the game he didnt even know his name.
Unless he changes his mind by Thursday morning, Jackson wont be on the practice fields at Lehigh Thursday afternoon, when players under contract are required to report.
But no matter how many times the Eagles tell you Jackson is missing critical practice time and meeting time and film time while he boycotts training camp, dont believe it. Hes not. He and Michael Vick have a remarkable connection that a couple weeks off isnt going to affect. Not a bit.
The Eagles realize just how underpaid Jackson is. At last count, Jacksons 565,000 base salary for 2011 is 28th-highest on the team (below guys like Mike Kafka, Clay Harbor, Trevard Lindley, Keenan Clayton and Riley Cooper). There are something like 90 NFL wide receivers in the NFL who make more money than Jackson, but none who make as many big plays as Jackson, whose 12 touchdowns of 60 yards or more are the most in NFL history by a player before his 24th birthday.
About 99 percent of the time, players under contract who hold out from training camp are ill-advised and have an inflated sense of their own worth and are hurting the team.
Not this time.
Why should Jackson put himself at risk at Lehigh when there are rookie draft picks on the field across from him whove never played a single NFL snap with higher base salaries than his?
What about being there for his team after an off-season with no minicamps or OTAs?
DeSean knows the plays. Run as fast as he can as far as he can and catch bombs from Vick and then dance around the end zone. How much training camp do you need to do that?
In any case, we have a hunch that Jackson will arrive at Lehigh before too long.
Under terms of the new CBA, players under contract must report to their teams by Aug. 9 or lose a year or pension credit.
Pension credit might not sound like a huge deal, but its the life blood of NFL contracts. And without four years of pension credit, players dont become free agents.
So if Jackson reports on Aug. 10, he will go into this off-season with only three years of accrued pension credit after his fourth NFL season, and that means he wont be an unrestricted free agent this spring, and that means the Eagles could let him play for 568,000 this year with no urgency to get a new deal done, since Jackson wouldnt be able to leave Philly until after the 2012 season.
So hell get here eventually. And at some point, the Eagles will sit down with agent Drew Rosenhaus and work out a long-term deal for Jackson, and hell spend the next several years in an Eagles uniform making all those electrifying plays and catching all those long touchdowns and dazzling all of us.
In between, therell be a lot of threats and name-calling. Therell be allegations and frustration. Therell be tweets and counter-tweets.
Then, at some point, it will all end, and theres No. 10 at Lehigh running past a bunch of overmatched cornerbacks while the crowd roars.
And by opening day, Jackson will be ready to go, the Eagles explosive offense will be intact, and at some point later this fall, D-Jack will have a new multi-year contract and these few meaningless days of practice that he missed will be long-forgotten.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org