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Matchup to Watch: D-Jack vs. D-Jax


CHARLOTTE -- Talented and confident with an acceleration so dangerous that slacking off for even a second could result in an outcome-altering play.

That is essentially the scouting report teams have honed in on for Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson throughout his 11-year career, and that will be the case again for the Panthers' secondary entering Week 9.

On the flip side, those same notes can apply to what Tampa Bay's offense has to consider when preparing for Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson, who has put together an impressive rookie campaign.

The pair's need for speed and never-give-up attitude may seem like a coincidence, but as "D-Jack" discussed on Thursday, it's far from it.

"DeSean Jackson was actually one of my favorite players in middle school and high school," Jackson said. "I watched a lot of him, and this was my receiver days. He was always an explosive player downfield, takes the top off the defense. Those are things I always liked about him, because I was a fast guy."

As a budding football prospect, Jackson spent time at both corner and receiver during his days at Riverdale High School in Jefferson, La.

It was there that Jackson cultivated his quickness and desire to make big plays, thanks to watching "D-Jax" do his thing at the pro level.

"I tried to run past any corner in front of me. Only needed two receptions to get about 200 yards sometimes," said Jackson, whose ridiculous high school highlight tape is featured below. "I always tried to play like (DeSean) when I was in high school."

Two hundred yards? Sounds like Jackson may have missed his calling as an offensive playmaker when he committed to LSU and then-head coach Les Miles in 2015, huh? There's only one issue, though.

"Coach Miles liked me more on defense," he admitted.

Obviously, the transition to a full-time cornerback has worked out for the 55th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, who has three interceptions, 36 tackles and a sack through his first seven games.

Plays like the one DeSean Jackson made in Week 2 - when he burned the Eagles for a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown - are what made him a household name. When the Jacksons take the field on Sunday, it's expected that Panthers defensive coordinator Eric Washington will match speed with speed.

After a very successful stint with the Eagles at the start of his career, DeSean Jackson's time with the Redskins and Bucs has produced mixed results, but the 31-year-old has proven he can still be a big downfield target. The 22-year-old rookie remains a firm believer.

"He's still got it, I know that for a fact," Jackson said. "He's still got some juice."

Regarding the challenge of defending Tampa Bay's biggest deep threat, Jackson said he's looking forward to competing against one of his childhood role models.

"You get excited to go against somebody you've been watching for so long," he said. "I can't wait."