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DeSean Jackson, Ronald Darby add spice to Philly-Washington opener

DeSean Jackson, Ronald Darby add spice to Philly-Washington opener

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ASHBURN — When Washington and Philadelphia face off in the NFL, there are few secrets.

Philly receiver DeSean Jackson spent time in Washington; Washington cornerback Ronald Darby just arrived from Philadelphia. Other players know the opponent from preparing to face them twice a year.

The series has been a significant one in recent years — Washington had Chip Kelly’s number, knocking him out of the playoffs two years in a row, and in recent years the Eagles have won six straight, including infamous takeovers of FedEx Field by their fans.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson said getting ready for this year’s game includes a healthy amount of respect for Darby, who was a part of Philly’s Super Bowl winning team.

“He knows us and we know him,” Pederson said. “This is a good player.”

The same can be said of DeSean Jackson, who at age 33 is still as potent as ever.

Arguably the worst time to face Jackson is in Week 1, when he’s at his healthiest. In the last two years, he’s finished with more than 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns in his Week 1 games. It’s the rest of the season that’s been an issue for him, as he has repeatedly battled injuries.

Darby said the key is being aware of Jackson’s deception — he’ll appear to be at full speed, then turn on another gear.

“There are a couple receivers that know how to disguise whether they’re running deep or going short,” Darby said. “He’s good at getting behind defenders and getting that extra step. And he’s in his 30s — I can’t even tell you how he was in his mid 20s.”

The one matchup that would seem to be the most favorable to Washington is its potent defensive line, with rookie Chase Young, against a banged-up Eagles offensive line.

Philly will lean on its chemistry — the team remains mostly intact, and in a year without an offseason, it could be easier for the Eagles to get rolling early.

Washington coach Ron Rivera said he’ll try to brace his team for potential trick plays, knowing Pederson’s penchant for misdirection.

Rivera noted the drafting of quarterback Jalen Hurts by Philadelphia this year, who will back up Carson Wentz.

“They took him in the second round; we know he’s capable,” Rivera said. “So, we went into this thinking: OK, we may have to prepare for a two-quarterback set where one’s going to split out and use him as a running back or use him as a receiver.

“They may hand the ball to him and also he might throw it. We have to prepare for all those things. We saw what they did in the Super Bowl a couple years ago, so we know they’re not afraid to.”

Darby will try to stay on the right side of the ledger after enjoying Philly’s winning years. Now he’s competing for his childhood team.

He was asked if it bothered him that he never got a big-money deal in Philly.

“I’m blessed to be where I’m at,” he said. “I’m blessed to be a part of the Football Team. That’s all I care about.”

mphillips@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6546

Twitter: @michaelpRTD

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