Sunday, January 28, 2001

Ravens have a former UC star, too


Jackson shines on special teams

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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        TAMPA, Fla. — Former University of Cincinnati defensive star Brad Jackson could end up the answer to a trivia question:

        If NFL Defensive Player of the Year Ray Lewis hadn't been able to plead out of a double-murder charge and return to football, who would have played middle linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens?

        Answer: Brad Jackson, UC Class of 1998.

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        “When Ray went through his ordeal, they moved me to the middle,” said Jackson, 25, who played middle linebacker during two minicamps Lewis missed while in court.

        Lewis faced murder charges in the deaths of two men outside an Atlanta nightclub after last year's Super Bowl, but the charges were dropped when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. When Lewis came to training camp, Jackson went back to backing up the NFL's best defender and playing special teams.

        “We never had a thought that we wouldn't have Ray Lewis back, but Brad was moved to the inside because he was the best guy to fit there and do what we do,” Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said.

        Jackson, a 1998 third-round pick by Miami, was cut in training camp, spent a few weeks in camp with Tennessee and was picked up by the Ravens. He spent his rookie year on Baltimore's practice squad.

        Jackson, who left UC as the third-leading tackler in school history (392), said he doesn't mind being Lewis' understudy.

        “He took me under his wing and told me my time will come,” said the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Jackson. “A couple of weeks ago, me and him were out on the field together, and there was a lot of hell for the other team.”

        Jackson usually creates chaos as a special-teams player — he had a career-high 16 special-teams tackles. He sometimes plays on passing downs.

        Said Marvin Lewis of Jackson: “He has very good athletic ability, he has very good intelligence and he has learned that, to contribute to this football team, he was going to do it through special teams at this point. He's been just a dominating guy on special teams.”

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