Finally, a teammate willing to admit the Eagles will actually miss DeSean Jackson.
“I mean, it’s a surprise for sure,” LeSean McCoy said Saturday. “I think anyone that tells you that they’re happy with it is … I don’t know how honest that would be.”
The Eagles released Jackson on March 28, just three months after he played in his third Pro Bowl in six years.
Jackson, 27, quickly signed with the Redskins, but despite Jackson’s accomplishments -- his 6,117 receiving yards are third-most by a receiver in franchise history, and his 21 touchdowns of 40 yards or more are most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2008 -- the teammates who have been interviewed over the past two weeks have not come out in support of Jackson.
McCoy, one of Jackson’s closest friends on the team, did not follow suit, although he still acknowledged that head coach Chip Kelly knows what’s best for the team.
“It’s going to be a little different, it's some big shoes to fill,” McCoy said at a football camp he hosted for 100 kids at Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, N.J.
“DeSean was by far one of the best playmakers in the game and the biggest deep threat there is in the game. So some big shoes to fill for sure.
“But then again, I think the front office obviously knows what they’re doing. You make a move like that, you obviously have something up your sleeve, you know you can get something that’s similar or even better.”
McCoy was asked about the notion that Jackson’s work habits were poor and that one of the reasons Kelly got rid of him was because he wasn’t a positive force in the locker room and didn’t work hard.
McCoy said he could only judge based on his experience, and his experience was different than as widely reported.
“You asked me something I haven’t seen,” he said. “What I did see from DeSean, we hung out off the field, on the field, we talk, we text, so when you say he didn’t bond with the team, I don’t know what that means, because I was a teammate and we bonded.”
McCoy was asked about Jackson’s relationship with Kelly, who took the Eagles to the playoffs in his first year as an NFL head coach, and he said he never saw any issues there.
“I’ve never seen that,” he said. “I’ve never seen the two of them get into it. Coach Kelly, the good thing I will say about him, is his understanding. If you have an issue or problem he seems to always work it out.”
As of now, the Eagles have only one receiver on the roster who caught more than four passes last year -- Riley Cooper. Jeremy Maclin comes back after missing last year with an ACL.
But with Jason Avant also released, the only other receivers currently on the roster are guys like B.J. Cunningham, Jeff Maehl, Damaris Johnson, Brad Smith, Arrelious Benn and Ifeanyi Momah.
What’s the plan? McCoy doesn’t know, but he’s confident Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman will figure something out.
“I wish I knew,” he said. “I’m sure Howie and the guys have something up their sleeve, and they make a move like that, they obviously know something.
“And I have trust in them. I think the team they put together so far with bringing in [Darren] Sproles and making different moves and signing guys, they know what they’re doing. I just think with losing DeSean there’s definitely some shoes to fill.”
McCoy, who led the NFL last year with 1,607 rushing yards and 2,146 yards from scrimmage, had only positive things to say about Kelly, despite the Jackson release.
“Chip is different,” he said. “He’s a cool guy, he’s honest, he loves hard work and [being] respectful. We have a great relationship.
“I think people are getting the wrong picture because he cut one of his best players. That was a decision he made. As far as personality-wise, Chip, he does well with everybody.”
As for Jackson, he landed on his feet with a big contract, a gifted young quarterback and two games a year against the Eagles.
The NFL schedule won’t be released for a couple more weeks, but those Redskins-Eagles games will certainly be among the most highly anticipated of the year.
McCoy said Jackson was hurt by his release, which was really unprecedented in recent NFL history, considering he’s 27, a three-time Pro Bowler and coming off his finest NFL season.
“I mean I think any player would be hurt,” McCoy said. “Basically, the face of the program since Donovan [McNabb] left, and he loved the city but it’s a business. I just think you have your feelings about the team, but you go through history, you’ll find some different players leaving teams. It’s just how it works.
“And I’m sure when he plays and comes up to Philly he wants to have a great game. So we’ll still be friends, we’ll still text and talk all the time after a game, might not before the game, but we’ll still be friends. Plus he got 16 mil guaranteed, and he’s not happy?”