DeSean Jackson hitting stride at right time for Redskins
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) DeSean Jackson turned 30 and turned his game up to another level.
For the first time in nine NFL seasons, Jackson recorded 100-plus receiving yards in three consecutive games and is hitting his stride just in time for the playoff-hopeful Washington Redskins. New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple called Jackson ''probably the best deep threat in the league,'' a declaration the numbers back up.
Jackson is one 60-plus-yard touchdown away from his 23rd, which would tie Hall of Famer Jerry Rice for the most in history; he is also one 80-plus-yard touchdown away from the fifth of his career, which would tie Rice, Derrick Alexander, Lance Alworth and Bob Hayes. If Sunday's matchup against the Giants is Jackson's final game in burgundy and gold, the pending free agent is hitting the market playing some of the best football of his career.
''I guess I'm blessed to still be able to play this game and play at a high level,'' said Jackson, who added he's OK after leaving the Redskins' game Saturday at Chicago with a jaw injury. ''I still feel like I have all the attributes to be a dual threat in this league and to continue to go out there and make big plays and help spark up the scoreboard for my team.''
Jackson has 20 catches for 504 yards and two touchdowns in his past five games, which he said was simply a result of quarterback Kirk Cousins throwing him the ball and him getting open. Cousins knows he can find Jackson down the field as the speed piece of a receiving corps that includes possession machine Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder and hard-to-cover tight end Jordan Reed.
The contracts of Jackson and Garcon are up after this season, but the veterans insist they're trying not to think about what's to come with their focus on the virtual win-and-in regular-season finale Sunday against the Giants. Washington would make the playoffs with a victory as long as Green Bay and Detroit don't play to a tie Sunday night.
While Jackson has his mind on New York, he certainly isn't naive to the reports that he'd be interested in returning to the Philadelphia Eagles next season as former teammates vouch for that.
''I guess on that end they're excited and happy, but I'm focused on being a Redskin and finishing strong and once free agency comes we'll see how it plays out,'' Jackson said Wednesday. ''I'm definitely intrigued about seeing what's going to happen, test the market and see what's going on.''
Receivers typically don't produce like this at 30, but Jackson's market value is significant. He has 971 yards and four touchdowns this season and is getting better with age and experience, according to Giants coach Ben McAdoo, who called Jackson a special talent.
''He's open, or he usually helps other guys come open, with his deep speed,'' McAdoo said. ''He attracts a lot of attention that way, and his tree is getting bigger. He can do a lot more things in the pass game as far as route-running than he used to be able to do. He's fitting nicely into the system and he's a guy that can explode on you if you're not careful.''
New York safety Landon Collins said Jackson ''lulls guys to sleep'' with his speed that he can summon when needed. Jackson had a 44-yard touchdown in the Redskins' Week 3 meeting with the Giants and has shown no signs of slowing down since.
''He's not slowed down at all,'' Washington coach Jay Gruden said. ''Sometimes when he's jogging it looks like he's running 100 miles an hour.''
NOTES: The team put S Donte Whitner (quadriceps) on season-ending injured reserve and signed S Josh Evans. ... LB/S Su'a Cravens (upper arm), DE Chris Baker (ankle) and CB Quinton Dunbar (concussion) did not practice Wednesday. Gruden said it was ''not looking good'' for Cravens to play Sunday. ... RB Robert Kelley was limited in practice with a knee injury as Gruden said the team would take it slow and have a better idea of his status Friday. ... Reed was limited in practice with a sprained left shoulder that caused him to miss the Bears game. Gruden said Reed is making progress and ''taking the right steps to recovery.''
AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, New Jersey contributed to this report.
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