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COLUMN

Fully fueled Jackson could drive Colts defense

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For more on the Colts, follow Reggie Hayes via Twitter at www.twitter.com/reggiehayes1

Former Browns linebacker brings great attitude to town

Friday, August 1, 2014 - 12:01 am

ANDERSON – We'll find out soon enough how much gas Indianapolis Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson has left in the tank.

He'll turn 31 in September and he's been a part of 891 tackles over the course of his eight-year career. Who can really measure how old he is in Cleveland Browns years? He spent his entire career there until signing with the Colts. Playing in Cleveland will age a man.

A month into the regular season, we'll know if Jackson teaming with Jerrell Freeman translates to double the production.

For now, the only read on Jackson is personality, and in that regard he's as perfect a fit for the Colts as possible.

Jackson emits equal parts confidence and humility, with a team-first approach and an appreciation for the benefits of being in a winning culture.

“I was joking the other day, talking to my girlfriend, that I've never worn a team-issued shirt with the Lombardi (Trophy) on it,” Jackson said. “Something so small means so much at this point in my career. So it's definitely a great position for me to be in right now. I do not want to throw this opportunity away. I'll do everything I can to help this team win and get better.”

Jackson has been a tackling terror over the course of his career, recording at least 100 tackles (solo and assists) every season in which he's played a full year. He had 92 solo tackles last season.

After being part of a mediocre Browns team for so many years, Jackson was attracted to the Colts because of their status as a contender.

He also says the cliché about the Colts cultivating a “family atmosphere” has its roots in truth.

“The attitude comes from the top, the leader, Chuck Pagano,” Jackson said. “He's the same guy every day. He's a genuine guy, he preaches family and he walks it and guys respect that.

“If you've been any other place, there's not a lot of that environment going on. It's a strictly business atmosphere. Not here. It's business when it's time for business, but it's a family here and guys would run through a brick wall for the guy. I know I would in the short time I've been here.”

Pagano said he believes Jackson will deliver the same kind of production this season that he had in Cleveland.

“He's everything and more that we saw coming in,” Pagano said. “He's been outstanding. He's a great leader, great mentor, tireless worker, smart guy, understands the game. He's no finished product by any means as far as our scheme goes and the terminology and everything like that. But he's been really, really good to this point.”

Jackson's presence could have been seen as a bit of a challenge to Freeman's role as the leading tackler – and quarterback – of the defense.

But here's where Jackson's attitude shines through again. He's gushing in his praise of Freeman and in that delivers the type of bond that could translate to great communication on the field, and more production from the linebacker corps as a whole. Pagano said Freeman and Jackson have developed a strong chemistry so far, and have begun to anticipate each other's moves and communicate better.

“(Freeman) makes my job easier and vice versa,” Jackson said. “(Opposing offenses) have got to pick their poison, whether you're going to focus on Jerrell or focus on myself. In the end, as long as the team's winning, as long as we're stopping that run, that's why I'm here. That's why I signed on here. We're trying to take this team to the next level.”

Jackson brings the right mentality to the Colts, no question. If he still has the physical fuel, the defense should gain some acceleration this season.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at rhayes@news-sentinel.com.