After missing much of the past two seasons with pectoral injuries, LB D'Qwell Jackson is on the road to recovery — and poised to again be a key part of the Browns' defense.
The team is switching defensive schemes, installing the 4-3 in place of the 3-4, a change Jackson welcomes. Jackson, who signed a one-year contract to remain with Cleveland in March before the lockout, will be tried first in the middle, although be believes he could end up in the middle or on the weak side, he told PFW.
Wherever Jackson plays in the LB alignment, he said, he will be happy to be back on the field after a trying two seasons. Jackson missed 10 games in 2009 with a torn left pectoral, then missed all of 2010 with a torn right pectoral. Jackson said he couldn't speculate on whether the second pectoral injury was related to the initial pectoral injury. "No one really has an explanation for it," he said.
The 27-year-old Jackson, who is working out in Maryland, has been "going strong for at least two months" in his training, he said, with one final check-up on his healing progress still to come.
The 6-foot, 240-pound Jackson is looking forward to playing in the 4-3, a scheme he said is kinder to a linebacker from a physicality and assignment standpoint. As an inside linebacker in the 3-4, Jackson frequently had to deal with "uncovered" guards trying to block him.
"To me, I feel like it will be much easier," he said of the demands of the 4-3.
Re-signing with Cleveland in March offered Jackson some certainty in uncertain times. "Through it all, this wasn't a time to go to a different place," he said.
Jackson said the Browns, who have a new head coach (Pat Shurmur) and a revamped coaching staff, would be in a tough position if the offseason is shortened because of the labor dispute.
"If this lockout ends later, we're at a disadvantage," he said, noting teams with established systems have an "upper hand right now." However, he said it's something the Browns could overcome before the start of the season with the right preparation.
"It can be done," he said.