PHILADELPHIA – In the aftermath of the Eagles' decision to release wide receiver DeSean Jackson, there was more speculation than explanation available. That's how wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell got drawn into the conversation.
During a mid-December game in Minnesota, Bicknell and Jackson were seen shouting at each other on the sidelines. It was the kind of scene that plays out every week in the NFL. But when a player gets released just a month after playing in the Pro Bowl, a scene like that suddenly seems more important.
Like most of coach Chip Kelly's assistants, Bicknell is not available to the media most of the time. All of the assistants talked Monday, so it was the first time Bicknell was asked publicly about Jackson.
“Honestly, I don't remember too much about that [Minnesota] situation,” Bicknell said. “It wasn't something that was carried too long. I think it does happen from time to time [on the sideline].
“I never had a problem with DeSean Jackson. I enjoyed coaching him. I enjoyed the year I had with him. As a coach, you move on so quickly. Once that decision was made, I moved on. I wish him nothing but the best. He did everything I asked him to do.”
Jackson produced career highs in catches (82), yardage (1,332) and touchdowns (nine) in his only season under Bicknell and Kelly. Now it will be Bicknell's task to replace that production without Jackson or slot receiver Jason Avant, who left as a free agent.
“I think it comes from everybody,” Bicknell said. “It comes from everybody being a little bit more comfortable in the offense. We've always had good guys in that [meeting] room. I have great confidence we have a lot of guys in that room who can make plays.”
Riley Cooper returns as one starter. Jeremy Maclin, who tore an ACL in training camp last season, returns to the starting lineup. Draft picks Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff provide different skill sets. Arrelious Benn and Brad Smith are veterans with chances to contend for playing time.
“A lot of guys are fighting for that position now,” Bicknell said. “They're all out there making a lot of plays. Jordan Matthews is a pretty fast guy. Brad Smith is really good with the ball in his hands. I don't look at it like, we can't go deep.”
The Eagles also added running back Darren Sproles, who has excellent speed. He's not in Bicknell's meetings, but he's one more player who will get the chance to help replace what the Eagles got from Jackson.
As for Bicknell, he said he had no issues with Jackson.
“I never had a problem with DeSean,” Bicknell said.