D'Qwell Jackson is keeping rather busy.
The Indianapolis Colts’ inside linebacker leads the NFL with 47 tackles in four games. And the 10th-year pro admitted Tuesday his body is sore from every one of them. Not that he's complaining. That's the job.
“Your body feels every one of them, without a doubt,” said Jackson, 32. “But you know you give credit to the guys up front. (Rookie nose tackle) David Parry has been playing phenomenal. (Rookie defensive tackle) Henry Anderson, (defensive end) Kendall Langford, our outside linebackers, whoever that’s in, they do a great job of setting the edge to allow myself and (inside linebacker) Jerrell Freeman to run wild and we’re able to make some plays for ‘em.”
Jackson had a career-high 17 tackles in the Colts’ 16-13 overtime home win over Jacksonville Sunday. His previous best was 15 twice in 117 career games. Ten of his stops were solos.
But is that always a good thing? That Jackson has been needed to make so many stops could be an indication he’s on the field too much — that the Colts aren’t getting enough third-down stops — and that other players aren’t making their fair share of tackles.
Head coach Chuck Pagano doesn’t see that logic.
“No, I would never be upset with a guy for making 17 tackles,” Pagano said Tuesday. “I think he reached, according to Elias or whoever, 1,010 for his career, which is quite an accomplishment. Again, I think he played 80, 81 snaps because we lost certain guys, this that and the other, and he’s having to play a lot of football right now. He takes great care of himself. Glad he’s out there.”
Like most players, Jackson is unaware of the numbers when he's playing.
“No, to be quite honest with you I have no feel for how many tackles I ever have,” he said. “My girlfriend and her friends, they were more into that stuff than I was. Any time we can get out of there with a win, yeah it was great to get a win.
“Obviously to have the defense on the field and us come up with some plays so we can get the ball back to our offense so we can go get a winning field goal, that’s always good. All the personal accolades, I’ll think about that when the year is over with.”
Jackson has amassed 1,009 career tackles, according to NFL.com. He was No. 1 in total tackles in 2008 with 154 while with the Cleveland Browns. Last season, he led the Colts with 138 total tackles and made his first Pro Bowl.
He spoke in training camp about priding himself in being a defensive leader. That requires more than just talking and making sure the guys line up in the proper spots. Teammates follow leaders who produce. It’s in this area Jackson excels the most.
On Thursday night, the No. 1 priority is to limit Texans running back Arian Foster, who has averaged 137 yards rushing in seven of his career starts against the Colts. That includes a career-best 231 yards rushing and three TDs in a 2010 season-opening win.
Jackson is sure to run into him with regularity.
“You’ve got to account for Arian Foster for sure,” Jackson said. “He’s going to get his touches. He’s a guy that if we can contain him, he’s one of the focal points of that offense. And not only him, they have some guys on the outside that can get it done. And also we may see a different quarterback so there are some variables that could affect what we do, but in the grand scheme of things, we understand what they do schematic-wise and we’re learning their offense that way.
“But also you have to account for Arian Foster because having him back it just boosts their confidence and they’re coming off of a loss and we’re trying to gain momentum.”
The short week is hell on players’ bodies, especially the older ones like Jackson. But just like piling up the tackle totals, that’s the job. He’ll be ready Thursday night.
“You have no choice,” he said. “Either you get used to it or you find another job.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.