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Old 06-04-2005, 12:40 AM   #1
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Post Jackon in a rush to improve

It all came so easy for Alonzo Jackson at Florida State. Line up at defensive end, stick your right hand on the ground and go get 'em.

Darrell Sapp, Post-Gazette
Alonzo Jackson hopes to regain the form that propelled him to collegiate success at Florida State.
Click photo for larger image.

"That's all I did. That's it," Jackson remembered, fondly. "Edge guy in the 4-3. I played on the right. Goin' every time."

He sacked quarterbacks 13 times in 2002, the fourth-most in Seminoles history.

"Run downs? I'm still goin'. They just said 'go' and they reacted to us. We were more of an attacking-style defense, every play I'm coming off the ball 100 miles per hour and the offensive tackle had to react to me."

Not anymore. Since the Steelers drafted Jackson in the second round in 2003 with the idea he would become a premier pass-rusher, all he has done is watch others do it.

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

Jackson was bypassed early last season by journeyman James Harrison, who signed five days before training camp after a player was injured, as the top backup at outside linebacker. This spring, Jackson is desperately trying not to get surpassed on the 53-man roster.

He lost 11 pounds, down to 258, in an attempt to become quicker and he's willing to do anything the coaches ask of him. But if he doesn't do better than he has in his first two seasons, he could go down with Scott Shields (1999) and Jeremy Staat (1998) as second-round picks who flamed out before they ever caught fire.

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

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