Malik Jackson‘s first year with the Eagles ended on the same day it began, with a season-ending injury in Week One. The defensive lineman who parlayed a solid 2015 with the Broncos into a major contract with the Jaguars is now healthy, and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is happy about that.
“He knows what it takes, No. 1,” Schwartz told reporters on Monday, regarding Jackson. “He also has that perspective of an injured player. . . .
“Malik did a great job last year of staying active with our team. Even though he was injured, he did his rehab here. He was in our meetings. He still served a role on our team and I was really impressed by that. It’s hard for a young player to do that but a veteran guy like Malik who has seen a lot of different things, he’s still brought something to our team and I was really pleased, and it just shows you what kind of man he is, what kind of player he is that he was selfless enough to do that. He never felt sorry for himself. He went out and did his rehab and found a way to contribute and that’s all we can ask for players.”
Despite being a veteran, the year away from football has reignited Jackson’s passion for the game.
“You can see his excitement,” Schwartz said. “He’s got that sort of almost a rookie excitement about being out there every day because he realized how quickly it can be taken away from you. . . . He brings my spirits up every day. You see him around the office. I mean, obviously you guys have seen it. He’s just a guy that is embracing every day and taking advantage of every day, and he does it with such enthusiasm. It’s fun.”
Apart from his attitude, Jackson has high-level skills.
“Malik is long,” Schwartz said. “He’s a little bit different than some of our defensive tackles. He’s in the quarterback’s way an awful lot because he is so long, and he can be a different kind of match-up from some of our other defensive tackles on those guards. He can get on some edges inside and he also has the ability to swing inside and outside. That’s something that we wanted to use him a little bit last year and things like that, and never were able to do it, but he’s played 3-4 defensive end and he gives us a good physical presence doing those sort of things, whether it’s by game plan or because of injury.”
Players who miss all or most of an NFL season often assume an out-of-sight-out-of-mind vibe. Jackson, a large man, will be hard to miss — and he could be even harder to ignore in 2020, if he stays healthy and plays like he did in Denver and Jacksonville.