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Old 07-05-2005, 11:29 AM   #1
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Default Inside Slant: Alonzo Jackson

Linebacker Alonzo Jackson is criss-crossing the country, trying to revitalize his flagging NFL career that started with such high hopes when Pittsburgh drafted him on the second round in 2003.

Jackson was scheduled to train with safety Troy Polamalu in Southern California and also be schooled by trainers in Arizona and Miami as he prepares for the opening of training camp July 31.

"I'm going to be back and forth a lot, go to different places, see how different people do it," Jackson said. "If I like it, I'll stay there, if I don't, I'll move on and go somewhere else."

The Steelers loved Jackson as a pass-rusher after he sacked quarterbacks 13 times at Florida State in 2002, the fourth-highest in school history. He mainly rushed the passer, but the Steelers tried to convert him to an outside linebacker in their 3-4 defense. He proved to be incapable of covering receivers, however, and now they'd be happy if he could successfully rush the quarterback to spell Joey Porter and Clark Haggans at times in their pass defenses.

He's been out of his Steelers uniform for twice as many games (22) than he's dressed (10). He's played in parts, many brief appearances, in eight games. He has two solo tackles on defense, one assist, and no sacks.

"I believe this year it's time for me to get out and do something," Jackson acknowledged.

Jackson was bypassed early last season by journeyman James Harrison as the top backup at outside linebacker. Jackson has since lost 11 pounds at the team's request and now weighs 258.

"It will be a big year for Alonzo Jackson," coach Bill Cowher said.

"It is and I understand that," Jackson said. "BIG year. I'm ready to contribute and do anything I have to do. It's up to me to impress that upon them."

Jackson's goal: "To play. To play any kind of way I can. To contribute, to help us win - rush the passer, a special teams guy, cornerback, whatever I can do. I just have to go out and do it."

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