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Jackson elected defensive captain

Posted Sep 2, 2012

Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was selected by his peers as one of the Browns’ three permanent captains for the 2012 season.

Cleveland Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has returned to the role he held before missing 26 consecutive games with separate pectoral muscle tears that cost him most of the 2009 and all of the 2010 seasons: that of captain.

Second-year Browns coach Pat Shurmur informed the Cleveland media Saturday afternoon that Jackson was elected by his teammates as one of the team’s three permanent captains for the 2012 season, along with five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas and kicker Phil Dawson.

Jackson said he was “honored” by the privilege to wear the “C” patch on his jersey that designates him a captain.

“There are a lot of other guys in this building that I look up to that just because they don’t where the ‘C,’ they’re still the captain for all the guys in the locker room,” Jackson said following practice Saturday.

Jackson will captain a defense that added depth on the line through free agency and the NFL Draft over the last two seasons to mix with a nucleus around tackle Ahtyba Rubin.

“We’re going to have a lot of young guys playing and (general manager) Tom Heckert has done a tremendous job of bringing in talent,” Jackson said. “When I look at the front of the D-line, those are big bodies with Frostee Rucker, Ahtyba Rubin, Jabaal Sheard. We have depth there for the first time. Last year, we really didn’t have that luxury.”

On Friday and Saturday, the Browns made some changes to their roster to get down to the league-mandated 53-player limit. Of the 15 rookies now on the roster, nine are on the defensive side of the ball.

When the cuts were made, the Browns kept rookie linebacker L.J. Fort, who they signed as an undrafted free agent in May, and linebacker Craig Robertson, a member of the team’s practice squad for a portion of last season.

They will play the entire season without veteran Chris Gocong after he tore his Achilles tendon in an early training camp practice, as well as the first three games without Scott Fujita, who has to serve a three-game league suspension for his role in the New Orleans Saints’ “bounty program.”

“You’re always going to have a group that doesn’t have the numbers, but for the guys that are going to be playing, guys have to step up,” Jackson said. “There’s more opportunity for the guys that no one expected anything out of for them to be in a starting role and we’ll see what they do. They had a tremendous preseason and when I say that, I’m speaking of L.J. Fort and Craig Robertson. No one really knew what to expect from those guys, but they made a ton of plays and now, they’re in this thing for real. It’s more respect for them and a credit to them.

“We’ve got to put in a lot of time after meetings. We’ve been doing that since day one because we didn’t know what to expect from Scott’s situation. We prepared for it. L.J. and other guys in the linebacker room, we’ve been playing multiple positions. We planned for the unexpected and here it is in front of us. Those guys, I feel comfortable playing next to (them) and we’ll see how it fares.”