It really is hard to believe.
On December 27, 2009, Jamaal Jackson tore his ACL in the 15th game of the season against the Denver Broncos. Less than nine months later, Jackson is in line to start the Eagles' regular season opener this Sunday.
Last year's loss of Jackson was a huge blow to the offensive line and the offense in general and the Eagles would go on to lose their next two games to the Dallas Cowboys. ACL recoveries typically take at least a year, and yet there Jackson is, working with the first-team offense on the practice field at the NovaCare Complex.
"That's a credit to (Jackson) and the trainers that have been working with him," said Todd Herremans, who will line up next to Jackson at left guard. "I know that (Jackson) circled September 12 as the day he wanted to be back because he didn't want to miss any time and then come back in. He's had that in his head, I'm sure not publically but mentally. That's where he wanted to be. So I'm happy for him that he's been able to push through everything and get out here with us."
Jackson said that he's happy to be back on the field after the intense rehab process and he's glad to "be there for my team." Still, the 6-foot-4, 325-pounder didn't get any game action during the preseason, so his fitness level is probably the biggest question mark heading into Sunday.
"I really haven't been tested in a game," said Jackson, "but I think with last week's work and some more work this week, I feel a little bit more confident about it."
"I'll tell you that I feel comfortable with him, he feels comfortable and the doctors feel comfortable," said head coach Andy Reid. "But, I can't tell you that I'm not going to keep a close eye on him; I will do that. And Mike McGlynn and his experience at that center position is important for those first few weeks, here."
Jackson will be thrown right into the fire against the Packers, who bring their 3-4 defense to Philadelphia. Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji will be lined up over Jackson play after play.
"What I worked on a lot is trying to handle the bull rush a little bit," Jackson said. "I did that a few times last week and I think we'll continue to work on their type of schemes and what they like to do. They have a bunch of big guys up front, so they like to power their way through sometimes. It'll be a big test."
Jackson said the other test will be "establishing the continuity along the offensive line." While the projected starting offensive line has yet to play a down together this summer, it is the same group who started a majority of the 2009 season together. In fact, over the last two years, the Eagles are 13-3 when the interior offensive line is Herremans, Jackson and Nick Cole.
But it should be noted that Kevin Kolb wasn't the quarterback for any of those 16 games. So how is the chemistry between the young quarterback and the widely-considered "quarterback of the offensive line?"
"Jamaal's a key ingredient to this offense," Kolb said. "He's a stronghold in there. Intelligent guy. Him and I are clicking on all phases. There are no issues there."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:31 p.m., September 8