COSTA MESA, Calif. — It has been seven months since Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson left SoFi Stadium on a cart.
He had surgery on his right knee to repair a ruptured patellar tendon. He has slowly been returning to action.
The Chargers started mini-camp on Tuesday, but Jackson worked on the sideline while continuing to get back.
“I wouldn’t put a percentage on it,” Jackson said. “But I’m getting there. I’m almost to where I want to be.”
Jackson has posted videos on his Instagram page during the offseason to show his progress.
First, it was a video of lifting to running on a zero gravity treadmill to now drills on the field.
“There wasn’t no offseason for me. I’ve been grinding,” Jackson said.
Last March, Jackson signed a five-year contract worth $82.5 million and was seen as a big free agent signing.
Jackson was a ball hawk with the New England Patriots. He caught 25 interceptions in his first five years in the league, which led to him being known as Mr. INT.
That is not who the Chargers saw on the field last season.
“I felt like s***,” Jackson said. “I hadn’t done anything, got hurt and just got paid. I still have to prove to my teammates and myself that I’m still ‘Mr. INT.’ I didn’t do nothing last year. I felt like s*** and didn’t feel good at all.”
It took him time to adjust as he suffered an injury during training camp that sidelined him until week two against Kansas City. He struggled to adjust to his new team and Brandon Staley’s defense.
He has taken this time to study and familiarize himself with the scheme so he doesn’t skip a beat.
“It’s all mental,” Jackson said. “It’s how you approach it every day. And it’s all up to you. Do you want to get better? How good do you want to be? I ask myself that each and every day.
“Of course. And that’s why I say that it’s all mental. In my mind, if I’m not confident, then I won’t have a good season.”
The hope is that Jackson will be ready for training camp. He has a doctor’s appointment on June 19th, where he will find out what is next for him.
“I think that the summer is going to tell a lot about his ability to be full-go for training camp,” Staley later added.
Jackson credited Marco Zucconi for helping guide his offseason rehab process. Zucconi was recently elevated to the team’s Director of Player Health and Performance.
“By the looks of it, the way I’m moving, the way I’m performing and what I’ve been doing with Marco the past few months, when [the doctor] does see me to check in on me, I think he’s going to see that I’m ready,” Jackson said.
The Chargers defense could really use the addition of Jackson because of his ability to take the ball away. They have lacked in that area.
“It’s been good seeing him back out there moving, doing DB drills,” safety Derwin James said. “I know that he’s excited. We can’t wait to get him out there.”
The expectation for Jackson is that he will be with his teammates on the field when his team starts training camp in late July.
“I expect myself to come out here and practice every day,” Jackson said of his mentality. “That’s how I’m taking it mentally — that I’m going to be ready for training camp, ready for Week 1. Whenever the doctors say I’m cleared, I’m going to be ready.”