BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -No matter what DeSean Jackson does on his electrifying punt returns, some fans always want more out of No. 6 California's top playmaker.
That includes Jackson's father, Bill, who wondered aloud why his son wasn't getting more touches during a halftime interview in last week's blowout victory over Louisiana Tech.
Jackson's sprained thumb is the biggest reason, says coach Jeff Tedford. The injury has prevented the junior from getting into a regular rhythm in practice, where he must wear a cast to keep the thumb safe for game day.
But Jackson realizes he's just one part of a multitalented offense that shows off every part of its playmaking arsenal in Tedford's balanced game plans. Even if he doesn't catch more passes than teammate Lavelle Hawkins in Saturday's Pac-10 opener against Arizona, Jackson said he'll be happy with any role.
``I'm definitely aware of everything that's going on in the offense,'' Jackson said. ``We have a lot of playmakers. There's a lot going into this offense. I know a lot of teams will try to take me away, and it's one of those things where it's going to be like that this year. I just have to be patient and get more chances to make plays.''
Jackson has 14 receptions for 112 yards in three games, trailing Hawkins' 19 catches for 220 yards in both categories. Jackson, touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate on a Web site set up by the school, has scored touchdowns on a 77-yard punt return and a 73-yard rush, but hasn't caught a TD pass after getting 16 in his first two seasons.
That's largely because the Golden Bears have plenty of options. Hawkins is enjoying a breakout season, while Robert Jordan also has been solid despite nagging injuries. Together, they're living up to their preseason billing as one of the nation's top receiving groups.
And the three are friends who love to share the spotlight. When a fan mistook Hawkins for Jackson at Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Hawkins jokingly played along, urging the fan to wear Jackson's No. 1 jersey to Saturday's game.
``We all work together to make each other better,'' Hawkins said. ``We're there for each other, but we understand we've all got to be our best to make this thing work. Nobody's trying to get over on anybody else. We're all out there every day just working for Cal.''
Jackson's injury is affecting his preparation for games because of the cast, and he might not get as much attention in practice from quarterback Nate Longshore. But the Bears know Jackson's speed and ability, even if he can't show it during late-afternoon workouts at the stadium.
``I think it's been real frustrating for him because it's something he counts on - his thumb - to grasp and catch the ball,'' Tedford said. ``DeSean's not a body catcher. He's got great hands and he relies on his hands. It's a (sprained) thumb. It's not a break, it's just a nagging thing for him, so it is a little bit frustrating.''

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