When the Ravens signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson to the practice squad Tuesday, one question came to mind: Does the 15-year veteran still have the eye-popping speed that made him a three-time Pro Bowl selection?
After Wednesday’s practice, Lamar Jackson had an answer.
“He’s still flying,” the Ravens’ star quarterback said of his new wide receiver, who took the field for the first time in Baltimore wearing a No. 15 jersey and a pair of Dior cleats. “Even though it’s Year 15 for him, it looks like Year One.”
Without second-year pro Rashod Bateman, who returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since suffering a foot injury in Week 4, Baltimore’s wideouts totaled just 45 yards in Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the New York Giants. DeSean Jackson is hoping to bring a spark to a receivers room that has combined for 42 catches and 587 yards this season, the third fewest in the NFL.
“Whatever they asked me [to do], and whenever [my number] is called on, I’m just going to do everything I can to get ready,” he said.
For the first time in 14 years, Jackson said he could sit back and enjoy life without worrying about offseason training activities or training camp. But as he watched the NFL season progress, the 35-year-old felt he could still contribute.
When Jackson was asked what he could bring to the Ravens, he quickly responded: “The tape speaks for itself.”
Throughout Jackson’s career with five teams, including eight seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and three with the Washington Commanders, he was known for being a big-play threat, using his speed to run past defenders with ease.
In 14 seasons, Jackson has 632 catches for 11,110 yards and 58 touchdowns while topping 1,000 receiving yards in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2016.
The speedy receiver, who turns 36 on Dec. 1, had 20 catches on 34 targets for 454 yards last season over seven games with the Los Angeles Rams and nine with the Las Vegas Raiders. He graded out as the NFL’s No. 73 overall wide receiver, according to Pro Football Focus, just ahead of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, whom the Ravens traded this past offseason.
In his third game with the Rams last season, Jackson had two of the fastest recorded speeds of Week 3 in a five-catch, 120-yard performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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“[He’s] still floating around, running great routes,” Lamar Jackson said. “He’s going to bring a lot to the table for us; we’re just going to have to see if he gets out there.”
DeSean Jackson said he’s kept an eye on the Ravens quarterback for a while, noting the 2019 Most Valuable Player has similar characteristics to Michael Vick, whom Jackson played with in Philadelphia. Jackson has broken several of Vick’s records, including the most 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback (11).
“[Lamar] has beat some of [Vick’s] records, so he is the new Michael Vick,” Jackson said. “To play with Michael Vick and come and play with Lamar is a blessing. I’m excited to be able to be here.”
When Jackson tried out for the team along with veteran wide receiver and Baltimore native Tavon Austin, coach John Harbaugh said Jackson was “in great shape, fluid [and] healthy.”
Harbaugh didn’t say whether Jackson will play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, but the 2008 second-round pick said “he still got some juice in the tank.”
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Jackson added. “It’s nothing [for me] to get into top shape like I need to.”