After a severely frustrating 2010 season, Jamaal Jackson is ready to look forward. After impressively returning from a torn ACL suffered late in the 2009 season, Jackson cruelly tore his triceps in the first half of the 2010 season opener, ending his season just as it was getting underway.
"It's tough knowing that you worked so hard to get back from the ACL when most people thought it couldn't be done," Jackson told PhiladelphiaEagles.com. "So it just took a lot out of me emotionally. But now I have my head in the right place and I'm looking forward to 2011."
Jackson added that his knee is totally fine while his triceps is "98 percent."
"Basically," Jackson said, "if we had a game today, I'd be able to play."
The pertinent question is whether Jackson would be the starting center for this hypothetical game. After starting 71 straight games beginning in the 2005 season, Jackson was forced to watch from afar in 2010 as Mike McGlynn settled into his role as the team's starting center. Jackson said he was impressed with McGlynn's development.
"I think he flourished," Jackson said. "I think he made some strides of improvement as the season went on. It's obvious that early on it can be a little difficult because of experience, but as the season went on he played very well."
All of a sudden, the Eagles have a glut of starting-caliber centers. While there is some speculation that either Jackson or McGlynn could potentially slide to right guard - Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole are both scheduled to be free agents - Jackson is also preparing for what could be his second training camp battle.
"I still have the poster in my house from *Sports Illustrated *of me and Hank," Jackson said, referring to the 2006 training camp when he went head-to-head with Hank Fraley for the starting center job. "I was the young guy and he was the veteran so now the roles are a little bit reversed. I'm ready to take on that challenge.
"I don't want to be a forgotten man. That's what happens when you get hurt. I just have to come back strong, hopefully (have) no setbacks and stay healthy."
One thing that Jackson won't be able to rely on next season is Juan Castillo, the new defensive coordinator who Jackson said meant "everything" to his career.
"Without him, I don't think I'd be in the NFL," Jackson said of Castillo. "He was the coach that stood by me and gave me a chance from small division 1-AA Delaware State. He saw something in me that most coaches I don't think would have seen."
Having spent eight seasons as Castillo's pupil, Jackson is better prepared than anyone else on the team to give his defensive teammates on what to expect from their new boss.
"They're going to be in for some tough practices and he's going to demand a lot," Jackson said. "He's going to work with each of the guys from the backups to the starters just as hard. So they're going to get a lot from him."
Meanwhile, as he continues to rehab and prepare for the upcoming season - he said he's been watching tapes of the Indianapolis Colts to acclimate himself to Howard Mudd's blocking schemes - Jackson was also in the national spotlight recently when he, along with DeSean Jackson and Todd Herremans,appeared on "The View" to surprise young Eagles fan Nadin Khoury, who had been the victim of bullying.
"It was very emotional," Jackson said of the day's events. "There wasn't a dry eye in the room. Just to see the look on that kid's face when we came out, that was priceless."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 1:53 p.m., February 16