WR Jackson ready to shrug off disappointing year with Bucs
The Bucs struggled a year ago to incorporate the speedy receiver into an offense expected to be more potent after the three-time Pro Bowl selection was signed to a $33.5 million contract in free agency.
Jackson, 31, established himself as one of the league’s top deep threats over nine seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.
He averaged a career-worst 13.4 yards per reception and scored just three touchdowns in his first year with Tampa Bay, which lost 10 of 13 following a 2-1 start to miss the playoffs for the 10th straight season.
The Cleveland Browns, who haven’t earned a playoff berth since 2002, are the only team with a longer playoff drought.
“Any time I get an opportunity to make good plays and spark this offense with explosive plays … or scoring touchdowns — whatever it is, I’m here to do (it),” Jackson said.
“Obviously last year was a disappointing year for myself and the team,” the receiver added. “I just want to be able to … give them high energy, good plays, and explosive plays.”
Jackson, who spent extra time in the offseason with Jameis Winston in hopes of improving chemistry between him and the quarterback on deep throws, enters his 11th season with 548 receptions for 9,487 yards and 49 TDs.
He’s also scored three touchdowns rushing and four more on punt returns.
“D-Jack is about 40 years old, but he’s still the fastest dude on our team,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy joked. “It’s hard for guys to run with him.”
Nevertheless, the Bucs couldn’t get the ball to him consistently in 2017.
While Winston’s favorite target, Mike Evans, continued to prosper with his fourth consecutive season with 1,000 yards receiving, Jackson finished with 50 catches for 668 yards — both lows for him in a year when he’s played at least 12 games.
And, for the first time since his rookie year with the Eagles in 2008, Jackson didn’t have a reception of at least 60 yards.
While he’s not making any bold predictions, the receiver is confident the offense will be better this fall.
“We have a lot of weapons and a lot of options for the quarterback to drop back and throw the ball to. I’m excited about that,” said Jackson, who has three receptions for 91 yards through two preseason games.
He also likes offseason moves that included bolstering the offensive and defensive lines, as well as drafting running back Ronald Jones.
“We have a lot more competitive players now. A lot of new additions coming from winning mentalities. They’re able to push the drive and push other guys on this team to the highest of their potential,” Jackson said.
“Obviously last year was a frustrating year for everyone that’s a part of the Buccaneers. But there’s one common goal: to go out there, put the work in, and hopefully the results show on Sundays.”
Coach Dirk Koetter said Jackson is having an outstanding training camp.
“I think DeSean has really asserted himself not only as a veteran, but as a leader,” the coach said.
“DeSean has instant street cred because of his career. … It’s a big difference if you see a guy that you respect out there doing what he’s supposed to do versus a guy that’s out there moping around,” Koetter added. “Hats off to him, he’s doing a good job.”