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Jackson Has Been The Rock In The Middle

It was just three seasons ago when the Eagles lined up the same five players for all 16 regular season games and two playoff games.

That certainly hasn't been the case in 2009.

But the one player who was there for all of those games in 2006 and every game this season has been center Jamaal Jackson. In fact, Jackson hasn't missed a game since taking over as the starter in the middle of the 2005 season. There are only three active centers who have started more consecutive games than Jackson's streak of 70.

"Jamaal is an important part of the offensive line," said head coach Andy Reid. "He is the transmitter between the right and left side and so having him as the consistent cog in there with some experience is very valuable."

This season, newly acquired left tackle Jason Peters has had to adjust to the new blocking techniques and at the same time battled through some injuries. Left guard Todd Herremans missed the first five games of the season after undergoing foot surgery. Max Jean-Gilles started the season at right guard while Herremans was out. Stacy Andrews and Nick Cole then split the reps at right guard until the Eagles decided to make Cole the starter. And Winston Justice has started every game at right tackle, but who would have thought that he'd be in that position at the start of training camp.

Jackson's teammates along the line know how valuable he is to the team.

"We'd be lost without him," Justice said.

The Eagles have won their last five games. Coincidentally, the offensive line has had the same five starters in each of those games. This past week against the 49ers, the Eagles did not allow a sack and gained 116 yards on the ground.

"I had faith in the guys they put in there. We have faith in each other. We've been together for a while. We know there's been a lot of shuffling and a lot of injuries," Jackson said. "We're peaking at the right time. It's playoff time. We're doing some good things out there."

And the man taking the snaps under center certainly appreciates the job Jackson has done.

"I think the chemistry is definitely there with those guys," quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "They're communicating up front, Jamaal had done a wonderful job of just making sure that everybody is on the same page and it just gives myself or the running backs the opportunity to step up in the pocket or running lanes in the running game to be effective."

And for the offensive line to remain effective, it has to "step to one beat" as Jackson points out. As long as the rock remains in the center of the line, there is no reason why that should not happen.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 3:45 p.m., December 22

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