Jackson quietly becoming D star

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

He’s a man of few words and many tackles.

And as long as linebacker Malik Jackson continues to make noise on the football field, his Calgary Stampeders teammates don’t mind enduring some silent treatment outside the lines.

“Malik? He talks sometimes,” insisted defensive end Robert McCune, Jackson’s roommate and off-season workout partner. “He has his moments where he bursts out talking, and I just laugh because he hardly ever talks, and when he does have his moments, it’s pretty funny.”

He certainly has his moments on the field, too.

Heading into Monday’s Labour Day Classic against the Edmonton Eskimos (4 p.m., TSN, QR77), Jackson leads the team with five quarterback sacks and sits third among all Stamps with 25 defensive tackles. The CFL sophomore has also scooped up two fumbles, returning one for a touchdown.

In fact, he might just be the early frontrunner for the Stamps’ defensive-player-of-the-year nomination.

“I’m still looking ahead, really,” Jackson said. “I feel like after the season, I can look back and say, ‘I did this good or I did that good.’ But right now, I’m just keeping my eyes forward — just keep on grinding.

“I’ve made a lot of plays, but I’ve also missed a lot of plays, too, so I feel like I need to pick that up. That’s what I’m working on — not the good stuff, but the stuff that needs work. You gotta look at things and see where you can get better.”

It’s easy to see why Jackson is a good fit for the Stamps’ in-your-face defence.

The 25-year-old has oodles of speed, a nose for the football and the type of athleticism that makes scouts drool.

What sets him apart from so many of his defensive pals is his soft-spoken nature.

Stamps cornerback Dwight Anderson rarely stops flapping his gums. Fellow linebacker Juwan Simpson is a regular trash-talker. DeVone Claybrooks, Charleston Hughes and Brandon Browner also like to liven things up with their lips.

Jackson insists he talks, too, although that’d come as a surprise to some of his teammates and coaches.

“He’s beginning to open up a little bit,” said Stamps defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones. “But last year, he didn’t say five words to me. He’s a real quiet guy, but he goes out in a business-like manner.”

That’s all they ask.

Jackson auditioned as a defensive end in his rookie season but has found a home as the weak-side linebacker.

Although they rarely hear from him, his defensive battery-mates know the former Louisville Cardinals standout will let his on-field performance do the talking.

“Outside looking in, he’s really quiet. He doesn’t bother anybody,” said Simpson. “But you meet him and talk to him, man, and he just makes you want to work. He’s definitely a hard worker, and he pushes guys every day.

“He’s a leader in that aspect, and he’s a great team player.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca


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