COSTA MESA, Calif. — The joint practices against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday and Friday will be important for cornerback J.C. Jackson.
It is going to be a measuring stick for him to see where he is physically and mentally.
“I can’t wait to see where I’m at,” Jackson said. “I get to compete against another team. It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait till they get here.”
He last played in a regular season game in week seven of last season against the Seattle Seahawks. Jackson left the game with a knee injury and has been slowly working his way back.
The Chargers have been easing him back into the fold as he starts trusting his knee.
“This is the only way that I am going to get better, just practicing every day,” Jackson said. “Not only on the field, I have to study hard, too, off of the field.”
Training camp is ending, so could he be ready to go in week one against the Miami Dolphins?
“I don’t want to put no projection on myself right now,” he said. “I’m working each and every day to be ready. If it’s Week 1 or Week 3, whatever week it is, I am going to be ready, mentally and physically.”
Jackson missed numerous training camps days in his first season after signing with the Chargers in free agency. He didn’t look quite right in the defensive scheme.
As of Tuesday, Jackson has only missed two practices, and things are clicking for him.
“This year, it’s slowed down for me way more than last year,” Jackson said. “Last year, I was still trying to understand the defense, trying to understand my teammates, the coaches.
“This year, I feel like I’m at home, and I’m playing way faster. You can tell I’m on it. The coach says the call, and I’m already on it. I get it this year. I understand it.”
To this point, Jackson has yet to practice against someone that isn’t on his team. He will be able to face Michael Thomas, Chris Olive, and Rashid Shaheed, to name a few.
“He’s in a good place physically,” defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley said. “We’re just going to continue to try to maximize each day, in the classroom and on the field.”
It is clear that Jackson is starting to partake in more drills and playing more snaps. This team needs him to be ready, especially because it improves the secondary if he, Asante Samuel Jr., and Michael Davis are the starters.
Jackson has said numerous times that he wants to return to being Mr. INT after intercepting 25 passes in his first four seasons. If he turns back into that, this defense could be a lot better than they have in Brandon Staley’s first two seasons.
“There are going to be some good days and some bad days, but I just have to keep working, keep going,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be a big year for the team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I can’t wait to see what we have this year.”