DeSean William Jackson will be playing in his age-33 season in 2020. Born in Los Angeles, California, and growing up in the Crenshaw neighborhood, he attended Long Beach Polytechnic high school. He had become one of the top wide receiver recruits in the nation while in high school, and also played baseball and ran track. In his senior year he caught 60 passes for 1,075 yards and 15 TDs.
Jackson went to the University of California to play his college football. He had three successful seasons, and was a Heisman Trophy candidate entering his junior season. He finished this season with 65 catches for 762 yards and 6 touchdowns, but had limited playing time secondary to several minor injuries. He measured 5’9 ¾” and 169 pounds, and ran a 4.35 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Jackson was selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jackson has been in the NFL for 12 seasons now; his first six seasons were with the Philadelphia Eagles, then he went to the Washington Redskins for three years, was in Tampa Bay for two years and finally returned to Philadelphia in 2019. Jackson has only had two seasons where he actually played all 16 games. He has four additional seasons of playing 15 games and two more playing in 14 games.
Jackson has been able to stay relatively healthy throughout his long NFL career. Heading into the 2019 season he had played in at least 11 games in all but one season. Playing in 153 of a possible 176 games, 87%. So he’s missed 1-2 games per season but doesn’t usually miss a bunch. Well, until 2019 that is, when things did not go according to plan as he only managed to play in three games.
Let’s review some of Jackson’s injuries as he’s had many over the past 15 years. Besides several concussions, Jackson has pretty much injured every body part possible. He suffered a shoulder injury in his freshman year of college, a groin injury, spraining his foot in 2010, and then fractured two ribs causing him to miss 5 games in 2012. Suffering an AC sprain of the shoulder in 2014, and multiple sprained ankles over the past five years. The good news is that he was able to play through the majority of these injuries and still be very effective.
The injury he suffered in 2019 was a sports hernia, and it ended up essentially derailing his entire season. Sports hernias, medically known as athletic pubalgia, are very frustrating injuries. The term ‘sports hernia’ is actually what we call a wastebasket term, meaning that there are several different diagnoses that fall into this category, including abdominal hernia, sports hernia, groin strain etc.
The lower abdomen and upper groin is a location where a lot of different muscles meet. Some of these muscles include the oblique muscles, adductor muscles, the abdominal muscles, as well as the inguinal ligament as well as the inguinal canal. All of these muscles insert directly into the pubic bone on the front part of the pelvis. Sports hernia often occur where the abdominal muscles and the adductor muscles attach to the pubic bone, whereas traditional hernias occur slightly lower in the inguinal canal.
How did these injuries happen? Most commonly these happen with sports that involve planting the feet and twisting with maximum energy, thereby tearing the soft tissues and muscles of the lower abdomen and groin. The most common sports where athletes suffer these include football, ice hockey, soccer, and wrestling.
Someone suffering a sports hernia is going to have significant pain in the groin area at all times, but this pain does mildly improve with rest. Once the athlete starts to twist again, like in a wide receiver trying to rotate his body to catch a pass, the pain returns with a vengeance. This pain unfortunately becomes chronic if not appropriately treated. There is traditionally not a visible bulge in the skin like you would see in an inguinal hernia.
Identification of these injuries requires a combination of physical exam as well as an MRI. Sometimes even an MRI can fail to identify the issue, that’s when the physician’s clinical intuition and experience are helpful. Most patients start rehabilitation/physical therapy first, but unfortunately the success rate for therapy alone is quite low for sports hernias. The strong majority of people who suffer these injuries, especially elite athletes, almost always end up undergoing a surgical repair. This is a common procedure but the technique is actually quite challenging. The majority of athletes actually end up going all to the same physician who is based in Philadelphia and is considered the guru for sports hernia repair, his name is Dr. William Meyers, MD.
DeSean Jackson attempted to rehab the injury early in the 2019 season, and as I mentioned in multiple podcasts discussing the injury during the season, these non-surgical treatment options are rarely successful. Jackson initially missed six games, and in his first game back re-injured the hernia and finally underwent surgery. Even if Jackson underwent surgery after initially suffering the injury in week one there is a very good chance he probably would’ve missed the majority of the 2019 season. Most athletes take at least 6 weeks, some up to 12 weeks in order to return to play after having surgery. The good news is that more than 90% of the patients who undergo surgery are able to return to play, think Kareem Hunt in 2019 (he underwent surgery at the end of August). This is particularly good for players returning from this injury in 2020, including DeSean Jackson and Odell Beckham Jr.
I expect Jackson’s abdomen to be 100% by the time the 2020 NFL season starts. Jackson has been in hot water recently (early July) after making some inappropriate and racist posts/comments on social media. It does not sound like the Eagles will penalize him in the form of a game suspension. Hopefully Jackson learns from these mistakes. With Alshon Jeffery also returning from a significant injury of his own and uncertain to start the 2020 season, it looks like Jackson will likely join rookie Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward and JJ Arcega-Whiteside as the Eagles primary wide receiving options.
In his one healthy game of 2019 he had a monster game against the Redskins catching 8 passes on 9 targets for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns. There’s a very good chance Jackson could actually lead the Eagles wide receivers in targets this year, depending on the health of Jeffery and how well Reagor transitions to the NFL.
There are few things you can count on in players, but for DeSean Jackson, you can count on him scoring at least one touchdown and getting hurt at some time during the 2020 season. He has missed at least one game in the last six years and has one score in each one of his seasons. Jackson has always been a blazer on the football field, and it hasn’t gone away with age.
In 2019, in three contests, Jackson averaged 17.7 yards per catch and 15.9 yards per target. Jackson even added two receptions of 40+ yards. Unfortunately, this occurred all in Week 1. It went downhill from there as Jackson could only manage one other target.
Not only will Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert be a large part of this offense, but Jackson will also have competition with Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Reagor, who they drafted in the first round. The Eagles then went with John Hightower in the 5th, Quez Watkins in the 6th and brought in Manasseh Bailey and Khalil Tate as Undrafted Free Agents. Not to mention, JJ Arcega-Whiteside is there and the Eagles made a trade with San Francisco, acquiring Marquise Goodwin. Lots of competition.
The offense is middle tier but should see an uptick with healthy receivers and a stocked shelf at the position. Philadelphia scored 385 points (12th) and tallied 5,772 total yards (14th). Wentz and crew attempted 613 passes (8th) and 3,833 yards (11th), which included 27 touchdowns (12th).
The Eagles offensive line is a top-tier group. Three of five starters made the Pro Bowl, and Jason Kelce made first-team All-Pro. Brandon Brooks, the right guard, made second-team All-Pro but is out the entire season with a torn ACL. Brooks tore it in the Playoff game against the Saints, and the Eagles re-signed Jason Peters to return at guard. There will be at least one new starter as Andre Dilliard takes over for Jason Peters at left tackle.
Sports Injury Predictor calculates that Jackson has a 53.5% chance of injury in 2020. They project him to miss approximately three games. While I am not particularly concerned about his sports hernia injury anymore, given Jackson’s significant injury history projecting him to miss three games is well within the normal range of expected outcomes. My personal injury risk or for Jackson is 6 out of 10.
I think he has a chance to be an undervalued asset on a team that loves to throw the ball and has the talents and speed to do well in 2020. With tight ends Ertz and Goedert working underneath, Sanders coming out of the backfield, Reagor drawing some attention, Jackson could easily excite by stretching the field, especially if Jeffery misses time.
At this point (July 8), Jackson is a WR55 and has an overall of 149, which is about six slots higher than teammate Jeffery. Jackson will continue to be the primary deep threat on the Eagles as long as his health holds up. However, he isn’t much of a touchdown threat, as he only has 14 in 44 games.
He is a dangerous receiver on the field and will torch defensive backs before likely going down with some sort of possible injury.
Injury Risk: Moderate. 6/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Nov 3, 2019||Abdomen Muscle Tear Grade 3||Jackson underwent surgery to repair a core muscle injury that he re-aggravated in the game vs. the Bears in the first quarter of the game|
|Sep 15, 2019||Abdomen Muscle Strain Grade 2||Jackson missed 6 games due to an abdominal strain during the game against the Falcons.|
|Dec 23, 2018||Pedal Achilles Pull Grade 1||Jackson got his right ankle stepped on in Week 16. He was in and out of that game, dealing with the issue, before sitting out the season finale.|
|Nov 25, 2018||Hand Thumb Sprain||Jackson sustained a left thumb sprain and missed 3 games. Jackson said he suffered the initial injury way back in Week 1.|
|Dec 18, 2017||Abdomen Muscle Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||Jackson hurt his left ankle in Week 15 and missed the season's final 2 games.|
|Oct 30, 2016||Shoulder||Jackson left in the 2nd half of Week 8 and missed a game after the Week 9 bye while dealing with rotator cuff issues.|
|Dec 13, 2015||Knee Strain Grade 1||Jackson suffered a "patella contusion" or a strained knee. He didn't miss any games because of it.|
|Oct 15, 2015||Thigh Hamstring Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||Jackson suffered a setback in a Thursday practice and missed 2 more games with his hamstring injury.|
|Sep 13, 2015||Thigh Hamstring Strain Grade 2||Jackson attempted a catch along the sideline in Week 1 and pulled his hamstring. He missed the next 6 games.|
|Aug 6, 2015||Shoulder A/C Joint Sprain||Jackson sat out the entire preseason with a sprained A/C joint. He returned for Week 1.|
|Nov 30, 2014||Leg Fibula Bruise||D-Jax suffered a fibula contusion in Week 13 and missed the following game.|
|Sep 14, 2014||Shoulder A/C Joint Sprain||Jackson was sidelined for 3 quarters after spraining his left shoulder but was able to return to practice the following week.|
|Aug 6, 2014||Pedal Ankle Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||Jackson sprained his ankle in practice and missed the 1st preseason game.|
|May 29, 2014||Thigh Hamstring Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||During the offseason, Jackson strained his hamstring in OTAs, forcing him to sit out for 2 weeks of practice.|
|Nov 26, 2012||Chest Rib Fracture||Jackson suffered 2 fractured ribs and was placed on IR for the last 5 games of the season.|
|Dec 12, 2010||Pedal Foot Sprain||Jackson sustained a sprained foot and played through it during weeks 15 and 16 but sat Week 17 to rest up for playoffs.|
|Oct 17, 2010||Head Cranial Concussion Grade 1||Jackson sustained a concussion in Week 6 and missed the following game. He returned after the Week 8 bye.|
|Nov 29, 2009||Head Cranial Concussion Grade 1||Jackson suffered a concussion that caused him to black out against Washington. He missed the following game.|
|Sep 20, 2009||Inguinal Groin Strain Grade 2||Jackson strained his groin. It lingered through the season, but he didn't miss a game because of it.|
|Nov 17, 2007||Leg Thigh Bruise||Jackson suffered a thigh bruise and was taken out at halftime. He missed the following week as well.|
|Oct 15, 2005||Shoulder A/C Joint Sprain||Jackson missed 1 game in his freshman season with a shoulder injury.|