Redskins LB Jackson eager to contribute

Redskins LB Jackson eager to contribute
October 8, 2013, 9:00 am
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What did Santana Moss do during the bye week?

Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson returned from a four-game suspension last Tuesday, participated in his first practice and then the team broke for its bye. 

That makes this week critical for Jackson as the coaching staff attempts to gauge his conditioning level ahead of Sunday night’s pivotal game in Dallas.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Jackson said recently. “I feel like I didn’t miss a beat, picked it right back up.”

But as far as his mental sharpness and, more specifically, whether he’s in football shape, well, Jackson knows he’s got to make up for some lost time.

“It’s hard to tell,” he said, asked about the effects of spending a month on the sidelines. “I’m not sure yet. We’ll see when we’re out there on the field with the long drives and things like that. Time will tell.”

Although Jackson was not paid during his suspension and could not practice or play, under the terms of the CBA he was permitted to train at Redskins Park and was allowed to have contact with teammates. Jackson’s suspension, which he says resulted from taking an unapproved painkiller, fell under the league’s drug abuse policy.

Jarvis Jenkins, on the other hand, could not work out at Redskins Park during his four-game ban for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. Jenkins is also set to return against the Cowboys.

Jackson said being around his teammates on a daily basis helped him feel connected to the group and boosted his morale during the most difficult month of his six-year NFL career.

“It helped a lot,” he said. “I’ve been knowing what to expect, but having seen the coaches daily and the players daily that really helped.”

Assuming Jackson has a strong week of practice, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the reserve outside linebacker play a significant role against the Cowboys. Although Ryan Kerrigan (five sacks) and Brian Orakpo (three sacks) have been productive, rookie Brandon Jenkins missed last week’s game with an ankle injury. And, as defensive coordinator Jim Haslett often says, you can never have too many pass rushers.

In 16 games last season, Jackson, 27, enjoyed a breakout year, registering career highs in tackles (37 combined), sacks (4.5), interceptions (4) and forced fumbles (2).

Jackson’s signature play of the 2012 season came in the Redskins’ biggest game of the season—the NFC East clinching win over the Cowboys in December. The Redskins were clinging to 21-18 lead in the fourth quarter when Jackson made an athletic interception of a Tony Romo pass to essentially wrap up the division and a postseason berth.

“Hopefully he’ll do the same thing and I’ll be put in that position to make a play,” Jackson said with a smile.