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One Man’s Injury Is Another Man’s Opportunity

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 2, 2011 – 1:43 pm

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Few players out on the field can appreciate their spot in the NFL more than outside linebacker Rob Jackson.  Jackson joined the Redskins as a seventh round draft pick in 2008.

In his short career, he has survived a coaching change, and the transition from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker.  He has found a niche on special teams and as a reserve linebacker.  Last season he appeared in two games, collecting five tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble.

And then in April, the Redskins drafted outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan with their first round pick.  For good measure, they drafted another outside linebacker in Markus White with a seventh round pick.

For Jackson, what else is new?

Despite the dramatically decreased chances of starting, Jackson keeps working hard in camp.  When Kerrigan went down in the first practice, he got his chance for a lot more snaps.

“At the end of the day, the ultimate goal coming into camp was to go out there and make the team,” he said.  “That’s everybody, especially a guy in my position. You gotta come out there and make the team first and just worry about what you do.”

So far, the increased repetitions have helped the team continue learning the playbook, but it also helps Jackson get more comfortable.

“That’s helping me a lot and I feel a lot more comfortable now,” he explained.  “I know what I’m doing while I’m actually working it, so I feel like I can just fire on without thinking.”

“Thinking” is usually a good thing, but when a player overthinks, that’s when they get caught out of position.  That’s exactly what happened to Jackson when he was adjusting to the 3-4 defense last year.

“This time last year, I mean, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off,” he said with a laugh.  “I didn’t know who I had in coverage, I didn’t know where I was going. So I feel a lot better now, a lot more comfortable.”

When Kerrigan returns from his bone bruise and hyper-extended knee, he is expected to need a lot of reps to get up to speed.  This will come at the expense of players like Jackson, but he’s more than a one trick pony.

“My role on special teams have helped me a lot,” he said.  “I’m pretty good on special teams. Me and Danny Smith, we’ve got a good relationship, and we’ll see how it pans out.”

For now, Jackson will just keep defying the odds.

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