There may have been a time, perhaps even earlier this season, when the return of DeSean Jackson may have been welcome news.
That day has passed, though the Eagles may have other plans.
The team activated the oft-injured, veteran receiver from Injured Reserve on Saturday, and will he play on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Jackson, who turned 34 earlier this month, has been on IR since suffering his latest injury on Oct. 22 against the New York Giants.
To say that he has been a disappointment in his return to the Eagles after five years spent with two different teams would be an understatement.
Injuries have wreaked havoc with him, from last year’s core muscle surgery that limited him to three games and six percent of the offensive snaps to this year’s hamstring and ankle injuries that have him stuck on four games played with 13 catches for 155 yards.
Would there be any point in the Eagles going back to the future with Jackson?
One more loss and they will be eliminated from playoff contention. That could happen Sunday in Dallas, with kickoff set for 4:25. Heck, the Eagles’ playoff aspirations could be dashed earlier in the day if the Washington Football Team beats the Carolina Panthers in a 4:05 p.m. game.
Anything is possible as far as Jackson's return goes, especially given the fact that they brought Alshon Jeffery back into the fold after he was done with his rehab from LisFranc surgery.
Jeffery, who led all the team's receivers in snaps against the Arizona Cardinals with 52, and made two nice receptions covering 63 yards, has cut into some playing time for other receivers.
The same would hold true if Jackson came back now.
Unless some creative contract restructuring takes place neither player is likely to return to the Eagles next year, so it would seem to make more sense to keep growing the three drafted pass-catchers as well as Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, and, OK, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, too.
These were supposed to be the receivers that grew with Carson Wentz. So much for the Eagles’ best-laid plans. The receivers are growing all right but are doing it now with Jalen Hurts.
Look at Watkins, if you can see him. The speedster was a blur after turning a short throw into a 32-yard TD catch in Arizona and had three receptions for 40 yards.
Ward has a team-high six touchdowns, with three coming from Hurts.
Fulgham got busy late in the game, making two catches for 30 yards, and Reagor was targeted eight times, making five catches for 49 yards. Hightower was inactive for a second straight week but that is because playing time is going to Jeffery.
These are the guys who will be back next year, with the possible exception of Arcega-Whiteside.
Watkins and Reagor are 21, Hightower is 24, and Ward and Fulgham 25.
An experienced-voice is a good thing, but not at the expense of stunting their growth.
Besides, the three rookies - Reagor, Hightower, and Watkins - are doing OK, so far and getting better, combining for 42 catches and 561 yards despite neither of them having played all 14 games.
Watkins has played in just four, Reagor nine, and Hightower 12.
“I like the group,” said head coach Doug Pederson on Monday. “I like their athleticism, I like their enthusiasm, I like their work ethic during the week. The sky's the limit. You talk about the quarterback, the sky's the limit with these guys, I think.
“The more they play and the better they get, I think they can really become a solid group, and they're slowly working that direction. I've been impressed with their skill and ability, and now it's a matter of just continuing to show up in games.”
The sky, it seems, would get much further away if playing time is taken away from this emerging group, but somebody’s playing time would have to take a hit if Jackson returns.
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