Denver's Jackson calls Peppers 'a beast'

Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers crept into the conversation during all the media hoopla at the Super Bowl on Thursday when Denver’s Malik Jackson talked about his childhood influences.

“Growing up, my favorite pass-rusher was Julius Peppers,” Jackson said. “He was just a beast.”

A reserve defensive lineman for the Broncos, Jackson started five games last season, contributing 42 tackles, six sacks and a forced fumble. Denver drafted Jackson in the fifth round in 2012, and he’s been a key contributor, in part, because of his ability to make an impact as a rusher inside or outside. Jackson talked about the first time getting a chance to see Peppers play.

“It was pretty cool my rookie year when I got to see him,” Jackson said. “When we played Chicago and I sat on the other side of the field and was like, ‘Oh, wow. OK. It’s him.’”

The problem with that, however, is the Bears didn’t face the Broncos during Jackson’s rookie year. The teams did square off in 2011 at Denver, with the Broncos prevailing 13-10 in overtime. Either way, it’s interesting that Peppers’, now 34, is old enough to be a player his peers looked up to as youngsters.

“He was pretty much the only one I really liked,” Jackson said of Peppers, “him and [former New York Giants defensive end] Michael Strahan, because they were great pass-rushers. I just try to take little bits and pieces as far as what they did, because I can’t do everything they can do. You just try to learn and see what you can put in your repertoire, and that’s what I try to do. Still have a long way to go.”

The same might be said about Chicago’s pending decision on what to do with Peppers for 2014, given that he’s set to count $18.183 million against the club’s already tight salary cap. Thus far, the team has been non-committal regarding Peppers’ future.