Jackson is surprised middle man; Moving inside is first for 2nd-year linebacker; Notebook


Ravens linebacker Brad Jackson laughed when he first heard the news.

But due to the excused absence of Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis during the team's minicamp this weekend, the coaches thought it best to move Jackson from the outside to the middle along with Cornell Brown.

Jackson, though, said he has never played middle linebacker, which was the reason for his surprise reaction upon hearing the news.

"Obviously, they feel as though I can handle it," said Jackson, in his second season out of Cincinnati. "The coaches are confident in me and my play-making ability. If I can just become more disciplined and fundamentally sound, my ability will be able to shine even more."

It won't be shining during this minicamp, where there is no hitting and most plays are run at three-quarters speed, if that.

Instead, Jackson will just get used to the nuances of viewing an offensive formation from the middle rather than from the outside.

"I never played the middle so it is a new experience," Jackson said. "I'm just looking forward to holding down the fort.

"I got a great coach in Jack [Del Rio] who's played the position before and can tell me things to watch out for."

Jackson finished with 13 special teams tackles last year.

He was flying around well, coach Brian Billick said.

Unitas makes a visit

Former Colts great Johnny Unitas made what is believed to be his first appearance at a Ravens minicamp. He did, however, receive a special invitation, from rookie quarterback Chris Redman, the Unitas Golden Award winner from his alma mater, Louisville.

Sharpe tries out No. 2

Shannon Sharpe's biggest adjustment in his first day of Ravens' minicamp seemed his wardrobe.

The former All-Pro tight end not only had to wear something other than Broncos' orange for the first time in his 11-year NFL career, but he walked onto the field sporting No. 2 on his jersey. His regular No. 84 is currently being worn by receiver Jermaine Lewis.

"Right now, I haven't decided on a number," Sharpe said. "I had to have a number to go out and play. So, I got my old college number."

Woodson not ready to quit

Ravens safety Rod Woodson is entering his 14th season, but the 35-year-old future Hall of Famer deflected any discussion about retiring after this season.

"I take it year by year and whatever I feel like at the end of the year," Woodson said. "I'm enjoying myself with these young guys."

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