ASHBURN, Virginia — Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson says missing most of the preseason could have contributed to the hamstring injury he suffered in the first quarter of a season-opening loss.
"It probably had a little to do with it," Jackson said Wednesday. "Just the heavy load as far as getting the reps and being able to be out there and running around and get my legs back into shape. But with the time I was given I thought I did a good job with that."
Jackson, who sustained a sprained joint in his right shoulder during an Aug. 6 practice, missed all four of Washington's preseason games. He returned to the practice field the week before the Dolphins game, but lasted just two offensive series last Sunday before sustaining a partial hamstring tear discovered in an MRI exam Monday. He is expected to miss three to four weeks.
"It was scary because my legs and my speed is what I do good at," Jackson said. "I'm a fast guy. I know without me being able to run at that speed I'm at, I'm not going to be able to do too much out there on the field. I was definitely worried."
Jackson was attempting to break free from Miami cornerback Brent Grimes on a deep pattern when he felt the muscle pop. He hobbled to the sideline and didn't return.
That leaves Washington without one of the NFL's best deep threats beginning with this Sunday's home game against St. Louis. Jackson caught 56 passes last season for 1,169 yards and six touchdowns. Sixteen of those receptions were for 20 yards or more.
In place of Jackson, the Redskins will rely on veterans Pierre Garcon, who had 113 catches two seasons ago, and Andre Roberts. Second-year pro Ryan Grant and rookie Jamison Crowder will earn more playing time, too.
Rashad Ross, the fastest receiver on the team behind Jackson, will make his NFL debut Sunday. Ross spent part of his offseason training with Jackson in California.
"It's hard to pick up slack for a guy like DeSean, but I think as a group effort we have guys that are very diligent in their route-running abilities and have good hands," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "They can do some good things."
Gruden did not address his quarterback situation Wednesday. Kirk Cousins will remain the starter, but Gruden ignored a question asking who will be his second-string QB against St. Louis. Colt McCoy served in that role last week, Robert Griffin III was inactive.
Meanwhile, the Redskins continue to deal with injury problems besides Jackson's hamstring. Nose tackle Terrance Knighton (rib), cornerback Justin Rogers (foot) and linebacker Martrell Spaight (concussion) all missed practice Wednesday.
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall (rib), offensive tackle Trent Williams (ankle), center Kory Lichtensteiger (finger) and offensive tackle Tom Compton (calf) were all listed as "limited" on the injury report.