The competition for playing time in the Hawaiian Islanders secondary may get kicked up a notch this week.
Former University of Hawaii safety Nate Jackson, who continues his climb back from a life-threatening illness, joined the Islanders for last night's practice at Aloha Stadium and could compete for playing time as early as Saturday's arenafootball2 game at Louisville.
"That's all I'm looking for, just an opportunity to keep playing," Jackson said during a break in the team's workout.
Jackson signed with the Islanders in December, but was placed on exempt status when he signed with the Tennessee Titans of the NFL. He was allocated to NFL Europe, but returned home from the league's camp in Florida after being released by the Scottish Claymores last month.
He will be taken off exempt status and could be on the 21-man roster that the Islanders will submit to the af2 offices on Thursday. The Islanders coaches would then decide whether to put him on the 19-man traveling roster for Saturday's game.
"He needs to learn the position. We'll see what he can do this week (in practice)," Islanders coach Cal Lee said.
Jackson still needs to have his paperwork finalized and pass a team physical before suiting up for the team.
Jackson was invited to training camp by the Titans as a free agent in 2002. But he underwent heart-valve-replacement surgery due to a viral infection in December of that year. He recovered to the point that the Titans resigned him in February and assigned him to NFL Europe.
Jackson took part in drills with the Islanders last night and said he's looking forward to making the adjustment to playing on the smaller field with the help of veteran Eddie Klaneski, the team's top defensive player last season and another former UH standout.
"That's one of the guys I idolized when I was a junior and senior in high school," Jackson said. "So I'm getting my chance to play with him and hopefully it's a good experience for me."