Thursday, July 20, 2006

Eagles Jackson Centering In On Starting Spot

Eagles center Jamaal Jackson signed a contract extension on Thursday through 2013, but that doesn't mean he will automatically move into the starting lineup.
However, fellow center Hank Fraley shouldn't feel too comfortable in his standing. The center position figures to be one of the big battles in training camp, but the long contract extension appears to give Jackson the leg up.
Fraley had been the starter for the better part of four-and-a-half seasons until suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in the eighth game of the season. Jackson, who had been on the practice squad, was elevated to the starting spot.
Apparently the Eagles liked what they saw.
Jackson's contract extension is basically based on performance. If he stats, he will be paid more, but the Eagles did give him a $1.75 million signing bonus, which even in the NFL is a decent sign of commitment.
If Jackson makes it through the entire contract, he would earn roughly $20 million, but looking eight years down the line, especially for a 26-year-old center, is probably not practical.
Injuries could occur as Jackson knows. He missed the entire 2004 season with a torn triceps.
The Eagles like the fact that the 6-foot-4, 330-pound Jackson is a more physical player than the 6-2, 300-pound Fraley.
Yet Fraley has gotten by in the NFL on his toughness and intelligence and the money the Eagles gave Jackson isn't big enough to automatically make him the starter.
Look for both players to come out with a lot of fire this preseason. Give Jackson the edge, but nobody should be ready to concede anything just yet.

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