Kareem Jackson was borderline incompetent two seasons ago. And while he made strides last year, he still had to split time at cornerback with Jason Allen.
It’s now year three for Jackson. Can he finally be the de facto number two corner opposite Johnathan Joseph?
Two weeks into Texans training camp, all signs say yes.
Yeah…I said it. Believe it. At least for the moment.
“He’s a much better player right now,” said coach Gary Kubiak. “He’s more confident in Wade’s system, confident. I think Kareem’s really improved as a player, and it’s all about confidence with him, too.”
Don’t just take the coach’s word. Watch the tape from Saturday in Charlotte. Jackson jumped an early pass intended for Brandon LaFell – very nearly picking it off – and put himself in good position to stop a pass intended for Steve Smith in the corner of the end zone.
The first play, the deflected pass, is the one you need to focus on. A young corner might be hesitant to make a gamble like Jackson did on that Cam Newton toss. But sprinkle in two years of experience, and things come a little easier.
“Playing that position, you have to have that confidence,” said Jackson. “You can’t go out there lacking that. At any time the ball could be coming your way. The offense can kind of sense when you’re lacking that confidence out there and it can kind of turn into an every down thing where they’re coming at you.”
He’s right. Just ask Alan Ball.
Still…it was just one preseason game. Jackson looked good for a quarter. Can he look good over a sixteen game slate?
Kubiak seems to think with two years under his belt, Jackson has a shot.
“On the back end, you got to be able to cheat, got to be able to see splits and seek formations and cheat plays,” said the coach. “Kareem’s seen enough of them now that’s he’s able to do that quite a bit, and that’s helping him make more plays.”
Kareem has a tough slate of quarterbacks to defend against this season. Need names? How about Tom Brady, Jay Cutler, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Matthew Stafford. Kareem will have to be on his A game against all. Otherwise, he could end up getting bullied, broken and beat on every given Sunday like its 2010 all over again.
After one game and a couple weeks of practice, Jackson is no longer the goat of the Texans secondary. That honor belongs to…cough cough ALAN BALL cough. Will he stay out of the Texans fans’ dog house? Who knows. But it’s certainly a promising development.