Every year, there are a handful of players who have a very strong preseason and make the 53-man roster, and this year one of those players for the Colts might very well be linebacker Edwin Jackson.
The Colts have liked Jackson all offseason after getting a chance to see him up close on their practice squad last December, but he’s just continued to impress in training camp and preseason.
On Saturday, Jackson led the team in both defensive tackles (eight) and special teams tackles (two) in the Colts’ preseason debut, seeing quite a bit of playing time. He’s listed with the second team on the depth chart, and it certainly seems like he’s right behind the top three of D’Qwell Jackson, Sio Moore (who will miss time with a hamstring injury), and Nate Irving. Jackson displayed a tendency to be around the football on Sunday, and that’s something the Colts like.
“I just told the guys don’t screw him up,” head coach Chuck Pagano joked on Monday. “You can over-coach and coach a guy like that down. Don’t say too much to him. Just make sure he knows where to line up and sic ‘em.”
“Ted [Monachino] does a great job and the rest of those guys in that room do a great job of making sure that we don’t paralyze these guys,” Pagano continued. “It’s a kill principle. Keep it likable and learnable and make sure they can play fast. He’s one of those guys that he has put the work in and put the time in and knows what to do. He’s got a ton of energy, he’s tough and he did an outstanding job on [special] teams. He’s all over the place. He does it every day and what you do out here during the week is what you’re going to get on Sunday, good or bad. He’s definitely making a case for himself to make this football team.”
Jackson was on the Colts’ practice squad for a month last year, was with the team in the offseason program this year, and has now gone through training camp and one preseason game with the team, but the Colts have already realized that he’s a good, consistent player.
“When he showed up, he hasn’t changed,” Pagano said. “He was just one of those guys that just popped. He wasn’t a flash guy. It’s day after day after day. He caught everybody’s eye the first time he stepped on campus and got on the practice field.”
As he has done so, Jackson has quietly carved out a role right behind the top three at the inside linebacker position.
“Well, I don’t know if anybody remembers, but in the spring we talked about the three guys,” defensive coordinator Ted Monachino said Wednesday. “We talked about Nate [Irving], Sio [Moore], and DQ [D’Qwell Jackson] as being the guys that were our linebackers. Then I also mentioned that there were some young guys that were right behind that group of veteran players that were pushing those guys, and Edwin certainly is one of those. We know that Edwin has a lot of football player in him. The thing that Edwin does so well is he understands that the line on the playbook page doesn’t last very long and he’s able to use a great deal of instinct to make a ton of plays. He can hunt the football with any guy we’ve got on our roster. [I’m] really pleased with where Edwin is. He’s still growing in coverage. He’s still growing as a run defender. The job that Herm [linebackers coach Jim Herrmann] has done with those guys has been remarkable. We think that we are starting to scratch the surface with Edwin. We can find out what he can be and then in certain situations maybe he can exhibit some dominant traits.”
What should all of this tell us? That we shouldn’t be surprised if the Georgia Southern product winds up making the Colts’ 53-man roster.