One of the biggest question marks entering the 2011 season was the status of Cleveland Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. There was no question that Jackson's style seemed well suited to the 4-3 defense brought in by defensive coordinator Dick Jauron. However, after missing the last two seasons, the bigger question was: Could D'Qwell stay healthy?
"You look at what he has done early (in the preseason) and what he did last week," Pat Shurmur said. "He has been productive. I am pleased where he is and thought he had a lot of production."
Jackson led the Browns in the season opener with 11 tackles and two sacks. Jackson also forced a fumble.
Jackson (6-foot, 240 pounds) was a former second-round draft choice of the Browns in 2006 out of Maryland. He was extremely productive in the 3-4 scheme, but didn't seem to be the prototypical 3-4 linebacker. He had triple-digit tackles in his first three seasons, capping a league-leading 188 in 2008.
In 2009, Jackson was on pace to once again garner more than 100 tackles when he tore his pectoral muscle in the sixth game. Jackson was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. He finished with 57 tackles.
In 2010, he tore the opposite pectoral muscle in training camp and didn't play a down. As a free agent coming off two major injuries, the Browns signed him to a one-year deal for the 2011 season.
Jauron said Jackson is playing with a lot of enthusiasm and appreciation.
"I really can't say enough about him," Jauron said. "In terms of his demeanor and how excited he is about playing and how badly he wants to do when he plays."
Jackson is playing a key position as the middle linebacker, calling the plays.
"He has been terrific, mentally," Shurmur said. "Typically, your ‘Mike' linebacker calls the plays and he has done a good job there."
With backup middle linebacker Titus Brown sidelined with a high ankle sprain, the Browns have rolled the dice with Jackson's health and thus far everything has been good.
Jauron ‘Mistake on Me': Defensive coordinator shouldered the blame for the Browns not being ready for the quick snap against the Bengals that resulted in a 41-yard touchdown pass from QB Bruce Gradkowski to WR A.J. Green last Sunday.
"I missed it," Jauron said. "There's nothing else I can say about it. To call a timeout would've been the way to do it.
"The way I remember it and you try to piece it together. They huddled faster than they normally did, but when the offense is ready you have to be ready and that's up to me."
Jauron said he was looking for the next play call and didn't see what was happening.
"It was really tough to have that happen to you after playing so hard so long," he said. "It was hugely disappointing. It was one of those things you clearly don't expect.
"We were really pleased with the way the game was going until then."
Jauron is confident it won't happen again.
"In terms of combating that, our corners won't come or go to the huddle."
Coaches Happy with Rubin: Over the weekend, the Browns signed defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin to a three-year extension. He is one of the players the Browns have targeted as one of their core players.
"Rubin is along the same lines as Joe Thomas and Evan Moore," Shurmur said. "He's a guy we targeted as a guy we want to be around here a long time. He's a good player and he's adjusted well to the 4-3."
Jauron likes the way Rubin leads by example.
"He has professionalism," Jauron said. "He's very large and he's a real worker and probably works as hard as anyone we have. He's very much a leader. He doesn't talk a lot, but is a leader by example. The guy just plays and shows up every play. He has huge values."
Massaquoi Questionable: WR Mohamed Massaquoi was listed as questionable on the injury report with a hamstring injury. LB Titus Brown (ankle), DB Eric Hagg (knee) and OL Tony Pashos did not practice. Brown and Hagg were on the stationary bikes.
Shurmur said he is not concerned with Massaquoi's availability.
"Mo's hamstring, I think, is he's still dealing with not having many reps in training camp," Shurmur said. "He didn't hurt himself in practice. For being limited he did just about everything."
He said nothing is changed regarding Pashos.
"He won't be in practice," Shurmur said. "He's just doing what he can do to get the ankle settled down."
Pashos said he re-injured the ankle practicing last week.
"(Rotating) is initially the plan, but I would like to settle on a right tackle."
Dolphins Game Sold Out: The Browns announced the Sept. 25 game with the Dolphins has been sold out on a single-game basis. The opener against the Bengals was a sell out and the finale against the Steelers on Jan. 1, 2012 is the only other game sold out thus far.