We continue our nuggets series with another Eagle who developed from a rookie free agent into a top-of-the-line starter. Jamaal Jackson emerged as the starting center midway through the 2005 season and never relinquished his hold of the job until he suffered a torn ACL against the Denver Broncos during a week 16 tilt at the end of the 2009 season. Although Jackson's presence was missed in the final two games against the Dallas Cowboys, a full off-season at center should help Nick Cole step into Jackson's shoes capably. However, Cole could just be keeping the job warm until Jackson returns to health, which is expected to happen some time during the middle part of the 2010 season.
1. Having started every game at center since making his starting debut in the ninth game of the 2005 season, Jackson and his 71 starts for the Eagles lead all of his teammates. However that hold atop the starts list is tenuous because defensive tackle Mike Patterson has 70 starts for the team at the moment and will likely pass Jackson before the 6-foot-4, 325-pound center gets back in the lineup. Among current Eagles, cornerback Asante Samuel has the most total starts with 84.
2. Only 30, Jackson is the elder statesman of the offensive line and is a leader for an emerging group. So who did Jackson look up to when he was making his way up from the practice squad all those years ago? "Jermane Mayberry" is my favorite offensive linemen ever, said Jackson about the former Eagle stalwart. "I really admire his character, his demeanor and the way he carries himself. He is so soft spoken, but is real tough on the field. By talking to him you would never know he plays professional football."
3. For all his success in the NFL, Jackson doesn't forget that it all began with ... a pair of shoes. After playing his first high school football game in sneakers on a muddy field in his Miami hometown, Jackson received a gift from one of his high school coaches, Earl Tillman, that left a lasting impression - a new pair of cleats. "He really looked after me like (Eagles offensive line coach) Juan Castillo does," Jackson said of Tillman. "I really think I wouldn't be in the NFL without him. He was a father figure to me at a young age and I'm indebted to him forever."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 10:12 a.m., July 11