DeSean Jackson Owns the Redskins, Says Defenses ‘better get in shape’

DeSean Jackson Owns the Redskins, Says Defenses ‘better get in shape’

Among the most positive signs from the Eagles’ 33-point offensive outburst on Monday night had to be the performance of DeSean Jackson, at least as far as individuals are concerned. Coming off of consecutive seasons with declining numbers, the two-time Pro Bowler showed he’s ready to serve as the torchbearer for the wide receivers in Jeremy Maclin’s absence.

Jackson’s seven receptions were one shy of a career high, while 104 yards accounted for more than half of Michael Vick’s 203 through the air. It was also the fact that DJacc was clearly Vick’s favorite target, as he looked the electrifying receiver’s way nine times – three more than anyone else.

Then there was the efficiency. Seldom in his six-year career has Jackson hauled in 78-percent of the passes thrown in his direction, especially when that kind of volume is coming his way.

Clearly Chip Kelly had a great game plan for how to utilize his star wideout, as we saw Jackson catch balls on far more short and intermediate routes than it seemed the Eagles ever attempted under Andy Reid. Of course, it helps that the Redskins have something of a feeble secondary, while DeSean has been no stranger to ripping off big plays against Washington throughout his career.

For example, Jackson’s 25-yard touchdown catch was already his seventh career touchdown in 10 games versus Washington – he’s only found the end zone more against the Giants. But here’s the crazy part: according to Elias Sports Bureau, it might be his least impressive scoring play on Washington to date. Per the statisticians:

DeSean Jackson caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Michael Vick on Monday, which was Jackson's seventh TD in 10 games vs. Washington - and at 25 yards, it was the shortest of those seven touchdowns! He had previously scored on receptions covering 88, 62, 57 and 35 yards, and also on a 67-yard run from scrimmage and on a 68-yard punt return.

It’s safe to say DeSean has been a thorn in the Skins’ side ever since he returned a punt for a touchdown on them in his rookie year.

Jackson entered this season on the heels of a strong training camp that garnered some media attention, and he seemed to be taking the great individual effort in stride. After the game, he (like everybody else) took questions about the pace of the Eagles’ offense, offering this warning to opposing defenses. Via Kent Babb of the Washington Post:

“A couple guys were going down with cramps and things like that to kind of slow us down,” said Jackson, who nonetheless had 104 receiving yards. “Not sure how serious the injuries were and things like that, but as far as the offense, we’re like, ‘Come on, let us keep going.’ ”

“A lot of teams,” he said, “better get in shape.”

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."