Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 26, 63 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.
—The Redskins last played a game 137 days ago. It will be 109 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.
—Days until: Redskins training camp starts 63; Preseason opener @ Falcons 77; Final roster cut 100
Hot topic—DeSean’s absent (again)
It’s becoming an annual event around Ashburn—sorting out whether or not fans should be upset that DeSean Jackson was absent for part of voluntary OTAs.
Jackson was not present at Wednesday’s OTA session, the first one that was open to the media. According to reports he did not attend on Tuesday either and his attendance at the offseason program, which started last month, has been sporadic.
His absence did not bother the quarterback. “He knows what is best for him and what he needs to get ready for the fall,” said Kirk Cousins.
Jackson not being there did not seem to particularly rattle his head coach either. “He’s been in the league nine years, he knows what he has to do,” said Gruden.
Head coaches need to be very careful about what they say about attendance during the offseason program. As noted, showing up is voluntary and anything a coach said that can perceived as putting pressure on a player to show up can be frowned upon by the players union. So if Gruden is unhappy he probably wouldn’t say much about it.
When the Redskins signed Jackson in 2014 they knew what they were getting. He wasn’t big on showing up at offseason workout when he was with the Eagles and there was no reason to believe that he would change.
But it appears that Jackson would have some legitimate incentive to attend the workouts this year. For one thing there was a pretty strong financial incentive in the form of a $500,000 workout bonus. The past tense is used there because he already has missed too many workouts to be able to qualify for it.
There also is the fact that last year was the worst of his career. He missed six games with a hamstring injury and he had career lows in receptions (30) and receiving yards (528). The injury happened early in the first game of the season after he had spotty attendance at OTAs and was out for most of training camp and all of the preseason games with a shoulder injury.
There is no definitive link between his relatively light workload leading up to the season opener and the hamstring issue. But after the injury last fall he admitted that there may have been. So why take the chance of having another lost season due to injuries? Why not just show up in Ashburn, do the work, collect your $500K and take your vacation from mid-June until training camp starts in late July. That puts more money in your pocket and eliminates a relatively light offseason workload as a possible reason if he does get injured.
There also is the age factor. Jackson will be 30 before the season ends. As players age, they need to work harder and harder in the offseason to be able to stay on the field. He can’t maintain the same work habits he had in his twenties and expect to be a productive player in his thirties.
Jackson knows all of this and he chooses to stay away anyway. That’s fine but the caveat is that he had better be ready for the season and he had better get through it injury free. If things don’t work out then in 2017 he could find himself as a 30-year-old free agent with a reputation for being fragile and not willing to put in the work that might help keep him on the field. The workouts being voluntary wouldn’t matter a whole lot to the people writing the checks and,, fair or not, the reputation would cost him a lot of money.
Maybe the worst-case scenario will not come to pass. Maybe he'll do his thing during the offseason, catch 50 passes for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns and cash in with another big contract.
Jackson can make whatever choices he wants to. But he should be wary of the potential consequences of his choices.
In case you missed it
- Cousins: 'It feels like it did back in college'
- Redskins OTA report 05.25
- Should the Redskins pass more on first down in 2016?
- Gruden on D-Jax: He will show up, probably
- Redskins' Doctson held out of OTAs
- Norman on why he can still compete without fighting his QB
- Teammate believes Reed is NFL's best route-runner