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DeSean Jackson posted a career-low 700 receiving yards last season. (USA Today Images)
It was a fingertip snag, a beautiful reception of at least 50 yards by DeSean Jackson — just one of those plays worth sitting back and admiring.
But what was perhaps more outstanding than the circus catch was how easy Jackson made it look beating one-on-one coverage. Granted, Jackson beat Eddie Whitley, who spent the final four weeks of the 2012 season on the Eagles' practice squad.
But, it wasn't the only time Jackson feasted on a single defender at Eagles' practice Friday.
About an hour earlier, Jackson went up against cornerback Brandon Boykin, arguably the most impressive member of the Eagles' secondary throughout training camp. Michael Vick stepped back in the pocket, waited, stared down Jackson on the right sideline, flicked a pass at least 40 yards and watched his receiver outpace the defending corner for an impressive reception.
That's been the focus during camp thus far for Jackson, getting back to what made him a household name in college and with the Eagles: making big plays.
"Anytime you're able to have the opportunity to make plays, that's what we're here to do. To make plays," Jackson said.
Jackson, standing at 5-foot-10, isn’t imposing in size, but rather with his jets.
The former Cal Golden Bear has led the Eagles in receiving four of the last five seasons, and it’s that swiftness that has led him to such accomplishments.
And even though the 2012 campaign was a relatively dull one for Jackson, Boykin said his counterpart hasn’t lost a step and his unique skill set helps the corner improve.
“He’s the same guy he’s always been. Explosive, fast, catching everything basically. He’s made me better being able to go against him every day,” Boykin said. “With the type of speed he has, I don’t think that’s something you’ll face every week.”
Boykin isn’t the only one at the NovaCare Complex to recognize Jackson’s presence at training camp.
While Boykin is one of a handful of guys who has gone up against him, Eagles coach Chip Kelly — through his observation — has certainly taken note of Jackson’s improvements since June’s OTAs.
“I thought he came back in really good shape. It was evident to us that he worked since he left here in June,” Kelly said. “I think he’s an explosive player. I think he’s very difficult to cover in one-on-one situations.”
Boykin would concur.
The corner, when asked about the difficulty of covering Jackson straight up, said containment is hard, but understanding what he’s best at is the first step.
“It’s tough. You just have to know his strengths,” Boykin said. “For me, I feel like I can run with him, but if I don’t get a hand on him I probably won’t get that advantage. So, getting a hand on him at the line of scrimmage and being able to flip my hips quick enough and getting my head around [is key].”
As Jackson relates to Kelly, the new coach is still in process of feeling out his primetime wideout.
Early in the offseason during OTAs, news was made about Kelly “demoting” Jackson because of miscommunication with the offense, but those days seem like a distant memory.
Now instead of those issues, Kelly is talking about Jackson’s progressions within the offense and the potential he has to translate his talents into results.
“We’re trying to figure as we get through what his comfort level is, what routes he feels really good with," Kelly said. "I think we’re starting to get a feel for him. Quarterbacks [are] getting a feel for him. Our coaching staff is getting a feel for him."
“I’m excited about what his future holds with us.”