TAMPA— Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson still hopes to play again this season, but a lingering left thumb sprain he says he sustained in the season opener has gotten worse and he won't return if he's unable to catch the football.
Jackson said he aggravated the injury against the Giants on Nov. 18 but continued to play until he caught only three passes for 19 yards on eight targets in a win the next week over the 49ers.
"Yeah, man, actually, I think I did it the first game of the season and just kind of been bearing through it the whole season but kind of re-injured it when we were playing New York," Jackson said Tuesday prior to his annual Shop with a Jock charitable holiday event at a Tampa Walmart.
"When I re-injured it, I hurt it pretty bad. The pain and just being a wide receiver, not being able to squeeze and grab the ball. I tried to do it against San Francisco. It just was tough and at the end of the day, if I'm not able to do my job and catch the ball, it's tough to be out there. I'm just trying to get it back healthy. You know, it's feeling a little better so hopefully I'm pretty close to getting back out there. We'll see how it goes this week and look forward to next week."
Jackson, 32, was in the mood to give, not receive Tuesday. He surprised 35 youths from A Kid's Place with $100 Walmart shopping sprees.
Jackson has 40 catches for 750 yards and four touchdowns this season, an 18.8 average which is the third-best in his career.
Although he signed a three-year, $33.5 million contract as a Redskins free agent in March 2017, none of his $10 million base salary for 2019 is guaranteed, meaning it's possible he's played his last game for the Bucs.
Jackson, however, has had trouble connecting with quarterback Jameis Winston. In fact, 561 of his 750 receiving yards have come in games Ryan Fitzpatrick started for the Bucs this season.
"No, honestly it's growing pains," Jackson said of Winston. "It's just part of the process. Hopefully it will work out. Like I say, If it's not this year, then next year. You never know how it plays out. Definitely he's a good dude. I don't think it's anything on purpose, it's just part it this so we'll figure it out."
Apparently, the thumb sprain isn't considered severe enough for the Bucs to put him on injured reserve, even with only three games remaining in the season.
Will Jackson play again this season?
"It's possible," Jackson said. "Like I said, the biggest thing is the time period the doctor said so we're just trying to stay within that and just seeing how it goes. But definitely getting better and seeing how it goes."