Jackson gearing up for NFL debut


METAIRIE, La. –After missing the preseason opener because of a death in his family, rookie cornerback Kareem Jackson has made up for lost time this week in practices against the New Orleans Saints.

Jackson (5-10, 197), the Texans' first-round draft pick out of Alabama, got three practices' worth of full-speed reps against Super Bowl MVP quarterback Drew Brees and a wide receiver corps that includes Marques Colston (6-4, 225), Robert Meachem (6-2, 210), Devery Henderson (5-11, 200) and Lance Moore (5-9, 190).

"I'm not used to seeing those kinds of guys as far as the routes they run and that style of offense," Jackson said. "They're a fast-paced team, a hurry-up-and-get-to-the-line-and-get-a-play-off before-you're-ready team. Learning on the run, going against different receivers every play, it was a change-up. It helped me out a whole lot."

Though Jackson would've liked to have been able to play in last Saturday's game at Arizona, Texans coaches don't feel that he's fallen far behind. He likely would have played for only a quarter or two against the Cardinals.

"Coming here (to New Orleans) gave him some stuff that he probably wouldn't get in a game," defensive coordinator Frank Bush said. "There's an intensity level involved here that he may or may not have gotten in a game because he wouldn't have played as many plays, and then you go against this quarterback and these receivers and that entire offensive scheme, you're looking at a kid that's getting a lot of experience on the grass. He missed some time in that game, but I think he'll be right back where he needs to be."

{QUOTE}Midway through the Texans' final joint practice with the Saints on Thursday morning, Jackson lined up against Meachem, giving him a 5-7-yard cushion at the line of scrimmage, before Brees completed a pass to Meachem for a short gain near the right sideline.

That was the only time Jackson was targeted in the entire practice.

"You know what, if he goes unnoticed, then we had a good day," Bush said. "It says that he's taking heed of what we're saying, taking heed to the coaching, working at his technique. When they do throw his way, he keeps things in front of him. He's a tough guy. He'll tackle. He'll make some plays on the ball. It's just a matter of time."

Jackson is anxious for his first chance to live up to those expectations in a game setting on Saturday night in the Superdome.

"I'm very excited right now," he said Wednesday. "Usually for me, once (making my first play) happens, then all the butterflies and being nervous go out the door, so I'll be in my comfort zone then and just ready to play."

The player who faces off with Jackson in practice every day in Houston, four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson, is looking forward to seeing the rookie take the field for the first time as well.

"I think once he gets game experience, it will help him out a whole lot and he'll understand (playing in the NFL) a little more," Johnson said. "He's only lacking experience. The talent is there."

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