Unlike most players in the NFL, if Ravens rookie cornerback Asa Jackson walked by you on the street, you’d have no idea he was a
professional football player.
Jackson is listed as 5’ 10,” 190 by the Ravens, but if there was a tape measure nearby, it would probably read differently.
What Jackson lacks in prototypical height, he makes up for in athleticism. During the NFL combine, Jackson ran a sub 4.5-second 40-yard dash, had 19 reps on the 225-pound bench press and had a vertical leap of 34.5 inches.
Throughout training camp, the Cal Poly graduate has shown on-field adaptations of each of these “measurables,” but his vertical jump may be the most impressive. After missing much of minicamp while finishing up school, Jackson caught the eyes of many as he was deflecting passes targeted at Tommy Streeter who is listed at 6’ 5”.
While Streeter was drafted solely for his large size, Jackson has had to use the shortcomings of his as motivation to keep turning
“I’ve used [my size] as motivation for a lot of things,” Jackson said. “I like when people tell me I can’t do something because then it
gives me the extra fire and extra passion to prove them wrong.”
Jackson started playing football at the age of seven and as he’s matured, he’s kept proving people wrong. A lot of internal motivation for Jackson finally paid off as he walked onto the field at the Georgia Dome to play in his first NFL game.
“It was great! That’s really the moment I’ve been dreaming
about since I started playing football,” he said.
While on the field, Jackson was matched up against players far superior to the ones he saw as a member of the Great West Conference during college. Finally reaching the NFL stage has prepared Jackson for even more self-encouragement, as he will continue to be overmatched.
“Once you realize it, ‘you know what, I’m supposed to be here’, they didn’t draft me for no reason, they didn’t bring me in here for no
reason,” said Jackson. “Once I figured that out and realized that, everything else was just a great time out on the field.”
After the Ravens 31-17 win against the Falcons, Jackson won’t find his name on the box score. He didn’t record any measurable statistic for the game but still did enough to get noticed.
On defense, he barely missed Falcons quarterback Chris Redman on a corner blitz.
On special teams ,he nearly downed a ball just outside the Falcons’ goal line. Unfortunately for Jackson, his foot touched the line,
resulting a touchback.
The value of the playbook has been the biggest eye opener for Jackson who said he didn’t need to study or go over material as much in college because he already knew the playbook.
“It’s a totally new system for me and a totally new situation for me, going inside and playing the nickel position,” said Jackson.
“Being diligent studying the playbook and knowing exactly what I have, no matter what the situation, no matter what the offense comes out in. I need to know where my help is.”
Jackson did suffer a minor hamstring injury while in Atlanta and was held out of practice over the weekend. The Ravens will host their first home preseason game of the year on Friday against the Detroit Lions and Jackson expects to be on the field.
When asked about his status for Friday, Jackson replied, “Yeah, I’m going to be fine. Things happen, it’s football, you recover.”
With Jackson expected to play on Friday, keep an eye on his special teams performance. The Ravens were already deep at cornerback and with the emergence of Corey Graham the unit just added even more depth.
For Jackson to make an impact on the team and get playing time this season, he’ll have to excel on special teams and keep putting himself in a position to make plays as he did in Atlanta.
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