HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – As far as Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson is concerned he doesn’t have any critics.
But the third-year corner does have his detractors. He always has and likely always will.
The scrutiny comes with the position.
Jackson, however, insists within the small controlled circle that he counts on that there is nothing but peace and calm. The critics be damned.
“I’m the type of person I will never let what someone says get to me,” Jackson said in a recent conversation with SportsRadio 610. “My thing is I come out here every day and I work hard for me, my coaches and my team. If I am accountable to those guys then at the end of the night I am satisfied.
“If I come out here and I half-ass do something then first of all I look myself in the face and handle that. If I am accountable to the guys I am in the locker room with and the coaching staff I can care less about what critics say about me.”
But unless Jackson lives in a vacuum and never comes out, it’s hard to mute the criticism he has faced these past couple of years.
Fans and perhaps even the coaches held their breath each time the ball went up in the air his rookie season two year ago, just hoping the first round draft pick might be somewhere in position to make a play. Jackson improved a great deal last season while splitting time with Jason Allen at the cornerback spot opposite Pro Bowl corner Johnathan Joseph.
Unlike his rookie season in 2010, Jackson was often in better position last season. He just didn’t always make the play.
But Allen gone and the coaches seeming resigned to give Jackson every chance to own his spot, you are seeing a much more confident Jackson out on the practice field during training camp.
Jackson, who returned to practice Monday after missing some time with a hamstring injury, says it’s not so much his confidence has improved as it is his preparation and comfort level with being in his second season in Wade Phillips attacking 3-4 defense.
“My confidence has always been there. I know what I am capable of,” said Jackson, who will face some competition for time from recently acquired veteran corner Alan Ball. “With the coaching from (defensive backs coach Vance Johnson), he has helped me take my game to that next step, I am definitely excited. With the work I have put in in the offseason I am just looking forward to it.”
While it may be hard from some still suffering the effects of his rookie season to recognize, but Jackson did make significant improvement last season. It was maybe a little difficult to see partially because his game reps were split with Allen. But a bigger part was with Joseph now on the other side, opposing teams looked for favorable matchups usually against Jackson.
He certainly had his share of losses in those battles. But as the season wore on, having Joseph on the other side became much less of a curse as Jackson began to hold his own.
“When you are on the other side of a Pro Bowl corner, of course, you are going to get more chances to make plays so I just look at it as opportunity,” Jackson said.
He also took it as an opportunity to learn from a veteran who has been through some wars and has come out of them as one of the premiere cornerbacks in the NFL. Interestingly, Joseph sees a lot his old self in Jackson now and he tells the youngster as much every chance he gets.
“I talked to him about making more big plays and that comes with time,” said Joseph, who signed with the Texans last offseason after a successful run with the Cincinnati Bengals. “I told him I dealt with injuries early in my career and that stigma on and off the field and I overcame them. Within him I see the same thing.”
Those talks have been beneficial to Jackson, who credits Joseph a great deal for his growth. They talk life, strategy, matchups and how to stay in the game no matter what happened the previous play.
“In terms of helping me, Joseph has been great since he has been here,” Jackson said. “A guy like that has pretty much seen all there is to offer from receivers, from the different type of offenses or whatever it may be. He is there for me to talk to about different things that I see or he will tell me what to watch for.
“We’ve had some great conversations so I look forward to coming to work with that guy every day.”
Jackson also looks forward to one day having the kind of reputation Joseph has a shutdown corner. But he knows it won’t come without a lot more consistency on the field and likely a few more lost battles.
“I know what I am capable of,” Jackson said. “I’m going to come out and I’m going to be physical. I’m going to play my game. I’m going to love what I do and I’m going to have a smile on my face doing it.
“My thing is I’m here to be accountable for those other 10 guys I’m on the field with. That’s my main goal.”
His critics be damned.