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July 29, 2019

Carson Wentz, DeSean Jackson dazzle in practice as they continue to build chemistry

Eagles NFL
Carroll - DeSean Jackson Eagles Stock Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

DeSean Jackson at an Eagles OTA practice.

Merrill Reese could have a new favorite phrase in 2019: "Carson Wentz to DeSean Jackson."

(Amazingly, just 30 minutes after publishing this article, Reese tweeted the following):

The duo dazzled a lucky group of Eagles fans and media members Monday morning on Day 4 of training camp. He caught two bombs for touchdowns, each exceeding 40 yards and taking the top off the entire defense — with Avonte Maddox the unfortunate victim. He also made a spectacular sideline grab besting coverage from Sidney Jones, and took a few quick slants and screen plays for first downs.

Jackson still has his speed. Wentz has perhaps the perfect arm to help him star — even at age 32.

"Today was an awesome day," Jackson said. "We connected a few times down the field, a couple intermediate routes, a couple quick screens… We have to keep building, that's the biggest thing. We can do it in training camp. We have to get the reps now so that during the regular season it's in the back of the head, he knows what I'm doing [and] I know what he's doing."

Said Jackson back on Thursday, "I don’t think I lost a step. I still have that blazing speed. I am still able to be here."

While it's not exactly binging Game of Thrones with your buddies, Wentz and Jackson have spent quite a bit of time in the film room, having lively conversations about defenses, tendencies and preferences. All the things that help the pair perform on the field as they did Monday.

"It's a work in progress," head coach Doug Pederson said. "They did make some plays today. It's great to see out on the practice field they spend some time, even after practice, getting in throws and that's what it takes. You don't develop chemistry over night."

While Jackson's impact on the field during the regular season will be measured in catches, yards and touchdowns, his impact right now on the team as it prepares for 2019 is enormous, even for the small 5-foot-10, 175-pound receiver who resembles Allen Iverson more than he does fellow Bird's wideout Alshon Jeffery (who is 6-foot-3, 220 pounds).

"It's different. It's different playing with a guy like him," Wentz said when asked what it's like playing with a receiver like Jackson. "But it's exciting at the same time. It takes a lot of communication. Physical reps are second to none, but just talking through everything, I feel really good I feel I am in a really good spot with him."

And on the other side of the ball, the Eagles secondary is able to uniquely spend every day trying to slow down Jackson and the rest of the wide receivers — each of whom brings a different kind of challenge to a defense.

"From watching, he's a great receiver," cornerback Ronald Darby said. "He has separation speed, he can move and make great plays. "Him, Alshon, [Zach] Ertz, Nelly [Nelson Agholor], everyone out there, they give you different looks — they are different types of receivers."

On the sidelines Monday, onlooking Eagles fans routinely made a note of where Jackson was on the field, pointing him out to each other during practice and watching his every move as he stole the show. 

The rest of the NFL will be doing the same in September.


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