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Jackson driven by focus on opener

Posted Sep 2, 2013

Cleveland Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is looking forward to Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Miami Dolphins at FirstEnergy Stadium.

On Dec. 30, 2012, the Cleveland Browns had just fallen, 24-10, to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the regular-season finale at Heinz Field. Moments after the game, while sitting at his locker, Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson decided to put the past behind him and switch his focus to the 2013 season.

That approach drove Jackson through his workouts in the offseason program and training camp. Now, the Browns are only six days from opening the 2013 regular season against the Miami Dolphins Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“It’s something that I’ve been thinking about since we walked off the field last year,” Jackson said. “The optimism is there. The vibe, here in the building, is different. The energy is different. Words can’t describe how ready I am to take to the field, actually play a full game and actually get some respect.

“That’s what we play this game for, the name on our back and the helmet that we wear and the guys that play beside us.”

During the offseason, the Browns overhauled everything from the coaching staff to the roster, and even the Berea training facility, where they invested $5 million to bring nearly all of the team’s employees under one roof to help with morale and collaboration.

The team hired a new coach in Rob Chudzinski and new coordinators, Norv Turner (offense) and Ray Horton (defense), as well as a host of other assistants intent on installing systems that bring out the best from the players’ talents and put them in the position for success.

“We’ve got a great coaching staff here; we’ve got some great players in the building, and I feel like, now, the formula is where it needs to be,” Jackson said. “Now, it’s up to the players to actually go out and show all the hard work that all of the coaches have put in, the personnel department has put in, to show how first-class this organization is.

“It’s not going to be a breeze. It’s going to be hard work, but I think we’ve got the guys who are mentally capable of getting this done. It’s a long season, but Coach (Chudzinski) likes to say, ‘Win the One.’ Whether it’s at practice, in a game or a rep, if we stay focused on the smaller, short-term goals each week, by the time we look up, we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the season.”