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Malik Jackson embracing high expectations

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If the Jaguars pass rush is going to improve in 2016, their $90 million dollar defensive tackle will be a big reason why. Malik Jackson is expected to come and instantly provide a boost for a defensive line that wasn’t able to consistently put pressure on opposing quarterbacks last season.

Signing a massive contract, like the one Jackson did on the first day of free agency, means that there will be more pressure on him from day one. In Denver he was part of a defensive line that also included DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. In Jacksonville Jackson realizes that he’s now “The guy” and he’s embracing this new role.

“I’ve been around guys who’ve had big deals and I’ve seen how they work,” said Jackson. “That kind of got me prepared for where I’m at now. I’ve got a lot of responsibility and a lot of guys looking at me to see what you’re doing on and off the field.”

During OTA’s players are in helmets, no shoulder pads but Gus Bradley already has a sense of just how they plan to use Jackson.

“I see him as an inside rusher,” said Bradley. “You know what you see on tape with him. We saw a couple of good rushes on the inside so we hope he brings that dynamic, but he’s more of a penetrator.”

On pass rushing downs the Jaguars will likely have Jackson and Sen’Derrick Marks rushing from the interior and the hope is that will free up Dante Fowler for one-on-one matchups on the outside. There’s also a lot of pressure on Fowler to be a force rushing from the outside but having Jackson next to him can ease some of that burden.

“I’m excited. Dante [Fowler] has been working real well,” said Jackson. “Me and J.O [Jared Odrick] have been working well together. We just have to keep learning each other and getting signals down. We have to learn to be more cerebral and not just run straight.”

Denver won the Super Bowl last season thanks in part to a defensive line that could rush the quarterback in waves. With the addition of Jackson, the return of Fowler and Marks from injury as well as the pieces that were already in place the Jaguars are trying create that same type of atmosphere here in Jacksonville.

“It’s only May, but all we can do is go out on this field and work together with no pads or helmet,” said Jackson. “Right now we look really good we just have to keep working and stay healthy.”