Eagles Notebook: Jackson confident his knee will withstand test in opener

Jackson
Jackson
Posted: September 09, 2010

Dunno how Jamaal Jackson is meshing with his offensive linemates - reporters don't get to watch practice until Thursdays - but Jackson and ex-o-lineman Andy Reid were in perfect sync yesterday.

They think Jackson is ready to play center in the opener Sunday against Green Bay. But they won't really know Jackson is up to the challenge of playing a full game with a 3-4 nose tackle in his face, less than 9 months after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament, until he does it.

"A little bit of that's an unknown," Reid, the Eagles coach, said yesterday. "I'll tell you that I feel comfortable with him, he feels comfortable and the doctors feel comfortable. But I can't tell you that I'm not going to keep a close eye on him; I will do that. And Mike McGlynn and his experience at that center position is important for those first few weeks, here."

McGlynn remains the backup because usual No. 2 Nick Cole is starting at right guard. Moving Cole over, should anything happen with Jackson, would disrupt two positions.

"I feel confident in it, but I still haven't played a whole game; I'll just have to see how I hold up through four quarters of football," said Jackson, who is wearing a brace on his left knee. "Can I get the job done? I guess we'll find out Sunday."

Jackson's presence for the opener seems especially important, because of the center's role in reading the defensive alignment and calling out blocking assignments, and quarterback Kevin Kolb's relative inexperience. This is something Jackson does much better than McGlynn or Cole.

"A lot of times [Jackson] can see things before the quarterback does," said left guard Todd Herremans, who wasn't referring to Kolb, specifically.

"Experience, leadership and knowledge of the game," Herremans said, when asked what having Jackson back provides.

The Eagles are touting the stat that they are 13-3 in the last 16 games Herremans, Jackson and Cole have played as the guards and center.

"It's not like we haven't lined up like this before, and we've been pretty successful when we've done it," Herremans said.

Kolb was the quarterback for only one of those victories. And none of them came with Jackson fresh off ACL surgery.

Reggie Wells, the guard whose acquisition last week from Arizona hastened the trade of Stacy Andrews to Seattle, seemed to be settling in yesterday, familiarizing himself with the exacting specifications of offensive line coach Juan Castillo.

"I don't know if I've been around somebody as detailed as he is" about pass sets, Wells said. "You look at it and you see the benefits of it. I'm [eager] to get my feet wet in it, and go from there."

Wells expects to be able to push Cole for a starting role eventually.

Safety first

Cornerback Dimitri Patterson embraced Andy Reid's plan to have him practice some at safety, since the Birds are carrying six corners and only three safeties right now. Patterson said he was a safety in high school in Orlando, converted to corner at Tuskegee.

"The more I can do, the better my chances of getting on the field," Patterson said. "I haven't done it in a while, but I'm excited about it . . . I try to place an emphasis on showing I can tackle, as well as cover, and I try to be as consistent in that as possible. I don't know if that [influenced the coaches' thinking], but that's the message I try to send to them."

Birdseed

Aaron Rodgers helped recruit DeSean Jackson for Cal in 2005, Rodgers told a conference call with Philadelphia-area reporters yesterday, but Rodgers then declared a year early for the NFL draft, after Jackson committed. He said he still owes the wideout an apology. Later yesterday, Jackson said they'd spoken recently and Rodgers didn't mention that. "I definitely did" think Rodgers was staying, said Jackson. His decision to spurn USC was huge news back then, but all is forgiven. "That's my boy!" Jackson said . . . Practice-squad tight end Garrett Mills, who came to the Birds after being cut by the Vikings, is well aware that the Eagles are carrying only two TEs on their active roster. "Obviously, I had some other options," said Mills, a fourth-round pick of the Patriots in 2006. He has played in nine NFL games, but retains practice-squad eligibility because they weren't all in the same year. "My agent and I looked at it and felt like this was a good opportunity" . . . The Eagles have 499 regular-season wins, going into the opener . . . Donovan McNabb was asked yesterday whether he planned to break out for his Redskins debut the air-guitar routine that so irked Eagles fans before last season's playoff game against Dallas. McNabb will face the Cowboys in his third consecutive game. "I may have retired the guitar," he said. "I may bring the drums out, bring the cymbals. It's funny, anything I do I guess is a big story, huh? It's something that we have been doing all year . . . Obviously if we would've won that game, people would've been looking for the air guitar and maybe I would've had my own little PlayStation game." *

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