Tyson Jackson is aware he has his detractors. He also knows that last year's injury came in a key season where he was supposed to take a major step forward. So he's looking forward to 2011 with a vision that refuses to let anything distract him.
Recent quotes from Jackson at practice yesterday at the Kansas City Chiefs training camp reveal a svelte defensive end doing what it takes to not only keep his starting job but take the next step forward. In recognition of defensive leaders like Mike Vrabel and Ron Edwards being absent this season, Jackson realizes that there's a void in the locker room and on the field. But he sounds excited to step into it.
"I will have to step up a whole lot this year with a lot of veteran leaders that left our team especially on the defense," Jackson said. "I think I can step up big this year. I’m focused on doing it and helping our team on defense to give us a chance to win."
As for the injury, Jackson seems upbeat and doesn't dwell on it. The goal, says Jackson, is to becoming a "dominant defensive lineman."
"I can’t look back at regretting that I got injured but I can just learn from it, look back at it, understand what happened, how did I play the first game, and what kept me going through our first game doing pretty well," said Jackson. "It’s a big year for me. I want to go out there, establish myself, get in there and become a dominant defensive lineman."
Based on training camp reports on Jackson's early performance and look, he's on target to take that next step -- one that would justify the No. 3 overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.