Rookie has a Past With the NFL:
Son of Keith Jackson Knew Reggie White
By Steve Korte, Belleville News-Democrat, Ill.
May 14--ST. LOUIS -- Unlike most of the players taking part in the St. Louis Rams' rookie minicamp, defensive tackle Keith Jackson Jr. had spent a lot of time in NFL locker rooms prior to this weekend.
Jackson, a seventh-round pick in the 2007 NFL draft out of the University of Arkansas, is the son of former NFL tight end Keith Jackson Sr., a six-time Pro Bowl selection who played for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers.
Jackson remembers going into the Packers locker room to see quarterback Brett Favre, wide receiver Antonio Freeman and the man he called "Uncle Reggie," defensive end Reggie White, during the 1995-96 season.
"I'd go to the games and then afterward I'd go into the locker room," Jackson said. "There was some talent in there. They had a defensive front that could stop anything. They also had an offense with Brett Favre that was unstoppable at that time."
Jackson had a special relationship with White, who was teammates with his father in both Green Bay and Philadelphia.
White had 198 sacks in his career and was posthumously elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. He died on Dec. 26, 2004.
"He knew me since I was a baby," Jackson said. "Defensive line was my position, and I was real close to Reggie. He'd help me with the club move, his favorite move, and things like that. It was just great for a person like him to help me out."
Another perk of being the son of an NFL star was going to the Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii. He also attended the Packers' 35-21 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
"I made like two trips to Hawaii, and I went to the Super Bowl," Jackson said. "That was a really big deal, and they won it."
The 6-foot, 305-pound Jackson made a name for himself as run-stuffing tackle during his final two seasons at Arkansas. He had 105 tackles, five sacks and 14 tackles for a loss as a junior and a senior.
"I'm basically a run-stopper who lets my linebackers fly through and make plays," Jackson said.
The Rams' coaching staff discovered Jackson during the pro day at Arkansas. They went to Arkansas to scout defensive end Jamaal Anderson.
"It's funny sometimes what you find out at those workouts," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "We found a very competitive football player. He had an excellent workout that day. He showed a lot of heart.
"He's like every other big guy. They have to work on their conditioning so they can compete every down, but he has a great motor, he understands the (nose) guard position and he has natural leverage. He's not the tallest guy out here, but he has something you can't coach, which is natural leverage. He's close to the ground, and it's hard to get up underneath somebody like that. He has a fine chance to compete for a spot on this roster."
Jackson's lack of height probably kept him from going higher in the draft.
"I feel like that doesn't matter," Jackson said of being undersized by NFL standards. "You can't judge the size of a man's heart. You just have to go out there and prove people wrong"
Jackson tries to make up for his lack of size by always giving maximum effort.
"I have to keep my motor running," Jackson said. "I have to do something extra than the person who is 6-3. I just feel like I have to keep my motor and energy up to make plays."
Jackson is currently sharing a locker with defensive tackle Clifton Ryan, a fifth-round draft choice out of Michigan State.
The two players could be fighting for ownership of that locker for the 2007 season as the Rams' final roster spot on the defensive line could come down to either Jackson or Ryan.
"It is going to be pretty tough, but you have to go out there business-like and at the end of the day, if you can leave it all out there on the field, it's up to the coaches to decide who they are going to give that spot to," Jackson said.
Jackson's father served as a color analyst for the Razorbacks' radio broadcasts.
Jackson said his father wouldn't criticize him on the air, but he would come down to the locker room at halftime to give him advice.
Jackson said he's still is getting tips from his father, though he's dishing out only verbal lessons these days after swearing off trying to match up physically with his son.
"We just wrestle a little bit," Jackson said. "He always tries to test his strength. He said he won't wrestle me no more because I kind of hurt him the last time. I slammed him on his back in the living room, and he kind of hurt his back a little bit."
Before the rookie minicamp, Jackson said his father lectured him about staying humble and trying to learn from the Rams' veteran players.
"It means a lot to me to have the opportunity to follow in his footsteps, and have the opportunity to play for the St. Louis Rams and get into the National Football League," Jackson said.