There was a lot of excitement when the Eagles signed Malik Jackson last offseason and rightfully so. The Eagles finally found the perfect complement to play next to Fletcher Cox.
He lasted 32 snaps.
Jackson had to watch the rest of the season, all the ups and the downs, as he rehabbed.
It sucked,” Jackson said on Monday. “It was a big eye-opening experience. Nobody ever wants to get injured, but to be on IR, especially for the whole year, for the first time, it was a lot. But I learned a lot, I learned a lot about myself. Ready to come back next year stronger.
Jackson suffered a Lisfranc injury in the season opener and had season-ending surgery shortly after. He didn’t even last a full game into his three-year, $30 million contract.
But the good news is that Jackson, who turns 30 in a few days, fully expects to be ready for the start of the 2020 season. And he's "super motivated" to return to top form.
While he wouldn’t commit to being ready for OTAs, he thinks he’ll be good to go between April and June, which means he should be on the field at the start of training in the summer.
Jackson will spend the next several months splitting time between Philadelphia and his home in California during rehab. He’ll be back in town for several doctor visits.
This trip to IR was a new experience for Jackson, who hadn’t missed a game since his rookie season back in 2012. He had stacked six straight complete seasons before coming to Philadelphia, where it seems like just about no one is safe from injury.
“It does suck, but it’s an eye-opening experience,” Jackson said. “Something you have to go through. You think you’re invincible because you go through every season and then this happens.”
While Jackson was brought in to play next to Cox, the pair didn’t get much on-field time together this year. Cox was rehabbing a foot injury all spring and all summer. Cox didn’t begin practicing with the team until the week before the opener.
So Cox and Jackson have been on the field together for just a few days in practice and part of one game.
“On a personal level, I got to know [Cox] real well,” Jackson said. “Now I just want to go out there and play football with him.”
Jackson said the team did a good job of making him feel included throughout the lost season but he was still away rehabbing a good deal.
While Jackson was obviously disappointed about his lost season, he tried to make the most of it. He got into art, he spent more time with his family. He even got to celebrate his 4-year-old daughter’s birthday with her in California.
All that helped him get through a season during which he often thought about how good the rotation of him, Cox and Tim Jernigan could have been. It helped him to survive what was probably the toughest professional season of his career.
“I think the first two weeks were the hardest,” Jackson said. “But then you just kind of take a breath and understand it’s OK, it happens and I can come back from it. It’s not career ending. It’s OK.”
For most of the season, Jackson was kind of a forgotten man. But getting him back in 2020 could be a huge boost for the Eagles.