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BillyCarpenter1 07-27-2003 07:47 AM

More on Grady


Defensive tackle Grady Jackson has made progress in his battle with the scale, but thinks he has taken too much blame for the team's collapse at the end of last season

Sunday July 27, 2003

By Brian Allee-Walsh
Staff writer

With the help of a nutritionist, veteran Saints defensive tackle Grady Jackson has lost 23 pounds in three months, but he said personal problems continue to weigh heavily on his mind.

Jackson reported to training camp Saturday weighing 343 pounds, down from 366 at his last weigh-in for team officials in early May. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Jackson would be fined for missing Friday night's mandatory team meeting.

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He would not elaborate on what "personal problems" were bothering him.

Jackson participated in individual drills Saturday, but likely would be limited during team sessions the next few days until trainers can determine his physical condition.

"He looks good," Saints coach Jim Haslett said between the day's two workouts. "He's lost a lot of weight, so I'm happy about that."

Jackson has drawn little praise from team officials recently because of a burgeoning waistline and his decision to boycott the team's offseason conditioning program.

His name has been linked to several rumors the past few months, the latest of which claims he is considering retirement. Jackson dismissed a report on, saying "I don't know where that came from. I plan on playing until they throw me out."

In May, ESPN reported that Saints officials would consider trading Jackson if he does not get in shape and buy into Haslett's team concept.

Jackson is listed as the team's No. 2 nose tackle, behind rookie Johnathan Sullivan, who missed the first day of camp because of contract negotiations.

"I want to be here, but whatever happens, happens," Jackson said. "You never know, I might be in a situation where I have to leave and go to another team. I've just got to keep my weight down so I can be ready for whatever situation I'm thrown in.

"I feel like I'll be a starter on this team or any other team, because I feel like I'm the best. Nobody can take that from me. If this is their way of punishing me because of the offseason, then I'm fine with that. I've always overcome adversity in my life. I've just got to come in and prove myself and work my way back up. As long as I get a fair chance and an equal opportunity (to start), I'll be all right."

Jackson said he still does not understand why he and former teammate Norman Hand were made scapegoats for the team's defensive collapse in 2002.

Hand was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in April.

"You hear rumors that it's Grady's and Norman's fault," Jackson said. "You can't blame two people. It ain't two, it's a team thing. That's how I feel. There is no 'I' in team. If one person messes up, everybody messes up.

"There has to be one heartbeat on this defense or offense. We can't be 11 separate heartbeats. This is a team thing, and we need to come together as a team and take the blame together instead of putting it on individuals."

Jackson said teammates Aaron Brooks and Joe Horn have encouraged him to put the past offseason behind him, and work to become a better player and teammate.

"I'm just trying to get back into it now," Jackson said. "I've had a lot of personal problems on my mind."

Jackson would not elaborate. "I've got to keep calm and cool about the whole thing. I've got to climb back to the top and get over it. Stuff will work out for the better. I'm like ice in a glass of ice water; I keep floating back to the top. That's how I look at it."

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