Flexibility is an attribute that has been consistently emphasized this off-season by head coach Andy Reid, general manager Howie Roseman and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott when analyzing the options in the secondary for the Eagles defense. Players like Macho Harris, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman all have the ability to play both cornerback and safety. But only one player on the roster has already proved that he can play both safety and cornerback on the NFL level - Marlin Jackson.
Of course, Jackson now has to prove himself all over again as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered last November. It was the second straight season ended prematurely because of a torn ACL for Jackson - he tore his other ACL in October of 2008 - and so Jackson will have to show that he's healthy enough to contribute to his new team. In order to get fully healthy, Jackson has been a mainstay at the NovaCare Complex, working closely with the trainers and new strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin.
"I'm feeling great man," Jackson said. "I've been blessed; I'm so far ahead with my ACL. I'm back to doing everything and I'm strong. That's the key thing. I'm strong and I'm moving good. I'm feeling explosive, my change of direction and everything's feeling really good right now.
"I've been really blessed just to be a part of this organization and then to get here and have everything going so well for me so far in the weight room, in the classroom. I'm learning as much as I can about the defense and getting as strong as I possibly can right now. "
A free agent, Jackson signed with the Eagles on March 10 and it's easy to see why the Eagles were interested in bringing in Jackson because the reward with a player of his talent is clearly worth the risk. Drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Jackson started 32 games for the Colts during his tenure at both cornerback and safety. In fact, he sealed the 2006 AFC Championship game for the Colts with his interception of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with under a minute remaining in the game. The Colts would go on to win the Super Bowl one game later.
So Jackson brings a championship pedigree to the Eagles - he's one of five players on the current roster with a Super Bowl ring - along with his considerable talents. While he expects to compete for a starting role at safety opposite Quintin Mikell, Jackson said he's also comfortable playing nickel cornerback.
"I have the flexibility to do both, but I was brought here to play safety and to play nickel back," he said. "If they need me at corner, I can play corner, I have that flexibility to play both positions ... all positions in the secondary. But I was brought here to be a safety and to be a nickel back so I'm looking forward to it."
Meanwhile, Jackson has been getting acclimated to a new city and a new organization.
"This is a very, I would say, accepting place," he said. "When they bring you in here, guys really welcome you in. The coaching staff, everybody in the building has been really very nice and generous. It's been an easy transition for me so far."
One of those coaches who has already worked closely with Jackson is new defensive backs coach Dick Jauron, a head coach last season with the Buffalo Bills, and a former player himself.
"He's a very, very good coach, a knowledgeable coach," Jackson said. "You can tell he's played the game. He understands the game from a player's point of view, not just a coach who's kind of just X's and O's and doesn't really realize what goes on on the field. He understands that and he relates to the players really well."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 7:53 p.m., May 12