POTOMAC FALLS, Va. -- The Washington Redskins aren’t crossing their fingers about how receiver DeSean Jackson will fit in with the team. Or if he’ll get in trouble. Rather, their focus is what he does on the field.
Which is why they’re anxious for the voluntary minicamp at Redskins Park this week. It starts Tuesday and runs through Thursday and will give them their first chance to see Jackson, and everyone else, in action.
Players have spoken about Jackson’s arrival, but no one in management has talked about signing him until Monday. Both coach Jay Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen, speaking at Brian Orakpo’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society golf tournament, said they weren't worried about Jackson. Of course, that’s why they signed him in the first place shortly after Philadelphia released him.
“I don’t know about any red flags,” Gruden said. “I know he’s a great football player. We met him, I felt great about his character. Time will tell, but I don’t foresee any challenges in that regard. He’s a good player. He’s been productive. I think we’re excited to have him and anything off the field, we’re not concerned about.
“We’re counting on DeSean as a player and person moving forward that he’s going to be a fit in the locker room and obviously be a great asset off the field.”
Allen said the Redskins did their “due diligence” on Jackson and also were helped in the process by what players said. Allen also said they didn’t want to pre-judge Jackson.
“We try to form our own opinions on people,” Allen said. “The way it transpired it gave us a full day just to get to know him. We feel he has a lot of good football in him and he’s a good young man. He wants to be great in the NFL.
“The player community is a very small group and everybody knows each other. They know the good and the bad and the indifferent. We felt very comfortable what we found out about him and felt very comfortable after talking to him and spending a day with him and seeing how he’d fit into the locker room. Our players embraced him.”
Owner Dan Snyder said last week that the desire to land Jackson by both Allen and Gruden was instrumental. They both saw the same thing: a speedy playmaker. Jackson is coming off a career year with 1,323 yards.
“He’s a great player. It’s already documented; a lot of yards, a lot of catches in his career, been to some Pro Bowls. Gives us speed,” Gruden said. “You’re always looking for great players, a lot of guys can run but they don’t catch so well, a lot of guys can run but they’re not elusive after the catch. He’s got it all; he has everything you want in a receiver.”
Gruden likes the trickle-down impact Jackson offers.
“He benefits the team in general,” Gruden said. “He’s a deep threat. He can catch the short pass and take it the distance. He’ll take pressure off of not only Robert [Griffin III] but the running game.”