Andy Reid will be keeping a close eye on center Jamaal Jackson Sunday and how he endures his first four quarters of action since tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament Dec. 27.
Reid and Jackson said doctors have cleared the knee medically -- Jackson said he received a doctor's blessing to return to practice as early as July -- but that still leaves open the question of how effective the center can be in his first game since the injury and early January surgery. Reid, asked about his comfort level with Jackson, acknowledged that the center's play is an "unknown" heading into week one.
"I feel comfortable with him, he feels comfortable and the doctors feel comfortable, but I can't t tell you I'm not going to keep a close eye on him, I will do that," Reid said Wednesday. "Mike McGlynn and his his experience in that center position is important these first few weeks here."
Asked whether Jackson was back to the same physical level as before the injury, Reid said, "that's some of the unknown. We've just got to see how he does and sustains throughout the game
Jackson will face a tough early test, going against a 3-4 defense that will line up 6-foot-2, 337 pound nose tackle B.J. Raji directly over Jackson in its base formation.
Jackson, who is wearing a brace on the repaired knee, said he expects to participate fully in practice this week, just as he would for any other game. As early as April, he said, Dr. James Andrews had told him the knee was looking good, giving Jackson hope that he could play on the early side of the nine to 12 month recovery time laid out when he had his surgery.
"I even thought I was going to do a little in training camp," Jackson said. "The knee is healthy enough to withstand physical contact."
Any new injuries, he said, would have nothing to do with his previous tear.
As to whether that means his quickness and power is back, Jackson thought for a moment to consider the question.
"It feels good. It's just the endurance part of it," Jackson said. "I haven't had a chance to do any preseason. Four quarters, the first game, there's going to be a lot of energy a lot of people are going to be amped up, so hopefully, emotionally, I don't drain myself."