By Lance Epstein
Last season the Eagles saw one of their biggest playmakers on defense in middle linebacker Stewart Bradley go down with a torn ACL in training camp. Today, it must have felt like déjà vu for the Eagles as wide receiver DeSean Jackson was carted off the field.
The injury occurred as Jackson caught a pass from quarterback Kevin Kolb in 7-on-7 drills during the Saturday afternoon practice. Jackson caught the short pass in between Asante Samuel and Omar Gaither, but neither made contact with him. After pulling in the pass, Jackson looked as if he injured his back since he was bent awkwardly trying to make the reception.
Once the play was over, he fell to the ground and stayed on the practice turf as trainers came running out to see what was wrong. Head coach Andy Reid and the Eagles trainers inspected Jackson who was lying on the turf in obvious pain. Moments later, he got off the ground, but was seen limping [favoring his right leg] off the field and looking like he was about to fall over. However the Eagles are saying Jackson suffered a back injury, but others are saying it is his leg.
Eventually, Jackson was assisted onto a cart and was wheeled off to the locker room. Reports have suffered that he got out of the cart under his own power, but was walking very gingerly into the indoor facility.
This could potentially be a devastating blow to the Eagles offense and special teams. Jackson has been the team's best playmaker for the club over the past two seasons. In just two years, he has a Pro-Bowl appearance under his belt and has compiled 125 receptions for 2,079 yards and 11 touchdowns. On special teams, he is averaging 11.2 yards per punt return and has taken three punts to the house. However, he alters the way teams punt the ball and changes the field position every time he touches the ball.
Additionally, with the Eagles making the transition from 11-year veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb to Kolb, they would like to have their full arsenal on the field for their first-year starter. Furthermore, Jackson is the straw that stirs the Eagles drink and creates for others as well. His deep threat speed clears the way for the other weapons on the Eagles offense. Without Jackson, Brent Celek, Jason Avant and Jeremy Maclin will have a harder time picking apart defenses.
As for Jackson, he has been asking for a new contract since the end of last year due to severely outplaying his second-round rookie contract. The two sides were not able to come to terms on a new deal because of the expiring collective bargaining agreement handcuffing them.
Now, if Jackson's injury is serious, he could be in jeopardy of losing millions of dollars. This was one of the fears that the star receiver had heading into the season. And it might have just become a reality.
Of course nothing has been released about the seriousness of Jackson's injury. In fact there are conflicting reports from the team and what was observed on the field about if it is a back or leg injury. Hopefully Jackson can be ready for the start of the season. If he is out for a long period of time or done for the season, the Eagles can survive. Nevertheless, it is going to be a much tougher task for the young team to reach the playoffs and Super Bowl without him.
Either way, the Eagles franchise must be sick to their stomach. For the second straight year, the club might have received a significant blow to their roster before even playing their first preseason game.
UPDATE: Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the injury is not thought to be serious and Jackson "will be fine." Jul. 31 - 4:05 pm et. Eagles have not confirmed but they might have dodged a serious bullet.