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O'HARA: Jackson's work ethic catching the eye of Lions coaches

Jonah Jackson feels like he has landed in a good spot at left guard on the Detroit Lions' offensive line by having tackle Taylor Decker to his left and center Frank Ragnow to his right.

"Two of the smartest minds in the building next to me definitely takes a lot of pressure off me," Jackson said after Monday's training camp practice.

"Being able to play next to a guy like Taylor Decker – a guy I think doesn't get the credit he deserved. That's a top tackle in the league. And to have the top center in the league next to me ... you can't beat it.

"I have to hold up my end of the bargain."

Jackson did that as a rookie in 2020. He started all 16 games – the first three at right guard and the last 13 on the left side, where he will play this season and already looks like a fixture there for years to come.

Jackson caught the attention of head coach Dan Campbell and his staff with the work he did in the offseason to improve on his rookie performance.

"Jonah's one of the few guys who's been here since basically I got the job," Campbell said. "He was in the building working like every day. I've seen him since February – seeing him around.

"I already know what he's all about. I know the work he's put in. We've had our eyes on him. He's a work-aholic. He's hungry. He's smart. And he's a leader.

"This kid, he's cut from the right cloth. We're looking for a big year out of him. He's young. He's still growing. I've got to remind myself, he's not a five-year veteran."

Jackson's work ethic as a young pro falls in line with how he prepared himself in college to make the jump to the NFL.

Instead of entering the 2019 draft, Jackson transferred from Rutgers to Ohio State for his final year in college. He figured correctly that he would benefit from practicing and playing with one of college football's powerhouse teams.

"In practice every day, you're going against guys who are going to play on Sunday," he said of his year at Ohio State. "To be able to have that experience against such great talent helped me translate that to the next level."

Jackson made some additions to his body build and workout program this offseason. He added weight, from his rookie playing weight of 306 pounds to "313 to 315."

There is a delicate balance in gaining weight while not losing mobility and quickness. Jackson feels he found that.

"I feel good," he said. "I feel like I'm moving fast and effectively. I feel like I'm able to sit on more power moves."

He took up martial arts to improve his handwork, which is a vital tool for offensive linemen to have to win the battles in the trenches.

He fit in quickly with the camaraderie of the offensive line. It is one of the tightest, most cohesive units on every team. They go out to dinner regularly and attend each other's weddings and other functions.

"We work in rookie dinners," Jackson said. "We're excited for this one (rookie Penei Sewell's turn). They got me last year."

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