Rookie Malik Jackson has chance for impact vs. Buccaneers

Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

Rookie defensive end Malik Jackson may have to step in for Robert Ayers this weekend against Tampa Bay.

With Robert Ayers home dealing with a loss in the family, fellow ex-Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Malik Jackson could have a bigger role this week when the Denver Broncos host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jackson told the Denver Post he's preparing in practice this week as though he is going to play more:

"I'm trying to work hard and get better every day to show the coaches that I'm ready [...] There's a chance I might have a bigger role than usual, and if I do I'll have to step up and perform."

Ayers' father died last weekend, though the fifth-year, former first-round pick played the next day against the Kansas City Chiefs. With his father's funeral this Saturday, it's possible he won't be back in Denver in time to play Sunday. If he does it'll be after missing a full week of practice. Jackson would be the next man up.

Jackson has seen time in practice on the inside of the line, where Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan are starters, and at end along with Elvis Dumervil and Derek Wolfe. Jackson, a rookie, was drafted in the fifth round of this year's NFL Draft. He has three tackles in nine games played.

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