Malik Jackson is having a stellar year on many fronts, but none bigger than his seven batted passes, which leads the NFL among defensive linemen. Jackson added two last week against the Oakland Raiders, who conversely had two of their own against Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler.

At 6-foot-8, it would seem somewhat illogical that Osweiler could have passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. But NFL defensive linemen are impressive in stature in their own right. Jackson, for example, is 6-foot-5. Getting a hand on an outbound pass has less to do with size, Jackson told Sports Stampede on Mile High Sports AM 1340 this week, and more to do with a quarterback’s target area and read.

The cause for batted or deflected passes, Jackson told Mile High Sports, is over-the-middle targets and a quarterback’s eyes fixing on the target area before the pass is delivered.

Jackson said the Denver defensive line is trying to help Osweiler, who has been susceptible to batted passes in his four starts and two relief efforts of Peyton Manning in 2015. It was also an issue that plagued Osweiler in the preseason. Jackson says that the defensive linemen have been working with Osweiler, as well as the offensive linemen, to communicate what they’re identifying that’s allowing for those knocked down passes.

As far as his personal success in that area, as well as his unit’s, Jackson says it’s also been an area of emphasis from defensive line coach Bill Kollar this year. (Check out Sam Cowhick’s profile of Kollar from earlier this week).

Jackson also noted that Denver will have a challenge getting in front of passes from their opponent this week, Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Roethlisberger gets good protection and likes downfield routes, which are very difficult to get a hand on.

“They have a good o-line out there that gives Ben the time to look downfield and throw those routes,” Jackson said.

Roethlisberger’s size and mobility will also make it difficult to get sacks, another specialty of this Denver defensive line. Through Week 14, Denver ranked first in the NFL with 44 sacks.

Listen to the full conversation with Jackson in the podcast below…

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