Costa Mesa, Calif. ( Associated Press) — With less than two weeks at training camp, Jesse Jackson is proving to be a quick study of the Los Angeles Chargers defense.
The 26-year-old cornerback, one of the top defensive signs in the league during the off-season, has been making life difficult for the wide receiver during practice. On Friday, he came up with a big interception during two minutes of practice near the end of practice.
Backup quarterback Easton Stick threw a pass in the middle to Trayvon Bradford before tipping Jackson and then came on before hitting the ground with the ball.
It’s the kind of play that has made Jackson one of the top defensive backs in the league and it deserved the nickname Mr INT that he bestowed upon himself during his four years with New England.
“I am getting the hang of it. Switching to a new team, you always have to adjust,” said Jackson. “I am coming out here every day, getting to know my teammates and coaches and enjoying the competition “
Jackson’s 25 interceptions over the past four seasons are the most in the league. He led the league with 23 passes and was second with eight picks as he made his first Pro Bowl last season.
However, the Patriots did not impose the franchise tag on Jackson, who came to the league in 2018 as an un-drafted free agent. He was not without a team for long as the Chargers signed him to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. , Tied for the ninth-highest in the league among cornerbacks averaging $16.5 million per year.
Los Angeles was 9-8 last season, but missed the playoffs for the third year in a row. One reason was defence, which was ranked 23rd.
The Chargers were aggressive in addressing the defense during the off-season, signing Jackson and getting linebacker Khalil Mack from Chicago.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson had the top grade in man coverage among cornerbacks who played half-snaps in his team’s games last season.
“He is like what we anticipated from his playing days in New England. He has come out here and has just been a lock-down performer,” said defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill. “Every time he steps on the grass, he is either close to making a play or he is making a play.”
Even though Jackson has excelled at taking passes, he feels his totals can go up this season as he is on a team with an effective pass rush pairing in Joey Bossa and Mack.
The only thing that hasn’t happened during the first eight drills of training camp is Jackson being tested by quarterback Justin Herbert. Jackson laughed when he said that Herbert hadn’t thrown much in his favor.
“I don’t know if he’s scared or what, but Herb isn’t throwing me at me yet,” Jackson said. “But no, Herbert is a great guy. I love practicing against him. I can’t wait to see what he does this year.”
Jackson has yet to practice with safety, Darwin James, who is not attending practices while the Chargers and their agents negotiate a contract extension. Jackson, who had known James since high school, said that James’ recruiting during the Pro Bowl was one of the reasons he ended up in Los Angeles.
“We are still building, it is still early in training camp. I love to come out here and compete with my teammates,” he said.
Jackson will be matched with the opponent’s best receiver. The September 11 match against Las Vegas and new Raiders receiver Davante Adams will be a strong opening test.
“I don’t feel any pressure. I just feel more excited. I’m excited to be here, excited to be a part of this team,” said Jackson. “You’ll see this year, when the season starts, I What am I going to bring to the table and for this team?”
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