Jackson Impressive as Eagles Rally Late

The rookie had another strong outing and showed the potential to be a consistent contributor, as the Eagles beat the Carolina Panthers 24-13 in their second preseason game. Details inside.

While it was hard to picture exactly how wide receiver DeSean Jackson would fit into the Eagles offense after the team selected him in the second-round of this year's draft, his performance in the Eagles' 24-13 win over the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial field has at least one person confident that he will have a chance make an impact this season.

"We are going to get to work together," quarterback Donovan McNabb said.

In a game where lightning delayed play for 58 minutes during the first quarter, discouraged fans watched as the Eagles' starters struggled to make plays and failed to sustain drives in the midst of a heavy rainstorm. Inconsistencies plagued the first team offense and stopped them from gaining momentum, as the Eagles had six penalties and five dropped passes in the first half and were down 10-0 as they headed for the locker room.

Luckily for Andy Reid's team, Philadelphia's reserves came up with some big plays in the fourth quarter, with Kevin Kolb hooking up with Greg Lewis for a 33-yard touchdown pass and Tony Hunt rumbling through Carolina's defense for a 51-yard touchdown with 2:26 left in the game. The contest was out of reach for the Panthers after Quitin Demps deflected a Matt Moore pass into the arms of Justin Roland, who ran the interception back for a 74-yard touchdown.

Donovan McNabb completed 11-of-24 passes for 98-yards against the Panthers, but the first team offense failed to put up any points as they battled through the bad weather.
Jeff Zelevansky (Getty Images)

Although there might be some concern about the starting unit's failure to put up points, Jackson's involvement throughout the game gave the people who waited out the storm something to be optimistic about for the future. The rookie led all receivers with seven catches for 71-yards in the game, while also being targeted on numerous other pass attempts, and he looks like he has a solid grasp of the Eagles' offense. In two preseason games, Jackson has found a way to get open consistently on short routes while showing a knack for catching the ball, and he leads the team with 12 receptions for 122 yards.

"Im pretty comfortable," Jackson said of learning the Eagles' system. "Coach Marty [Mornhinweg] has a lot of things in the offense for me. I'm just trying to to do my best and get open as much as possible."

Another good sign of things to come was an example of Jackson's attention to detail. Although he is not much of an imposing figure at 5-foot-10, 175-pounds, he had a key down-field block on Hunt's game winning touchdown that gave the running back a clear path to the goal line.

While he is showing that he has what it takes to be a quality receiver, the return game is the area where people thought Jackson would have the most immediate impact, and although he has not been spectacular, he had his best punt return performance so far in Thursday's game.

The former Cal standout, who had six punt returns for touchdowns in his career with the Golden Bears, showed great speed and shifty moves on a 27-yard punt return in the second quarter that put the Eagles on the Panther's half of the field.

With starter Reggie Brown's status unclear for Philadelphia's next game against the New England Patriots as he nurses a strained hamstring, Jackson could once again see a lot of passes thrown his way. Even though it is only the preseason and his impact in the regular season could be much smaller, McNabb still believes his newest receiver will be a factor in the Eagles' offense this year.

"We all know the history of rookies playing here in Philadelphia, so you don't want to put too much pressure on [Jackson]," McNabb said. "I'm sure we'll have some packages for him to be involved in."

Andrew Pluta can be reached at ajp8231@gmail.com

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