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Eddie Jackson Feeling Energized by Youth

Bears safety Eddie Jackson could be in need of a turnaround year after a few down seasons without an interception, but leading a youthful secondary in a new defense has him feeling like it's 2017 all over again.

Eddie Jackson has had this feeling before.

It was in 2017.

"It's like I feel like a rookie coming in again, just learning, soaking up this game, man, and leading my guys the way I work and the way I do things," Jackson said.

With a young secondary that changes almost daily, they need stability provided by a veteran who feels like a rookie in a defense starting to come together.

"I feel like we built that chemistry early on in OTAs, so right now we’re just flying," Jackson said. "This year, you haven't heard one person complain about nothing—not about a day, not about a period, not about how hot it is. We're still going. You haven't heard that.

"And I've been on a bunch of teams where you have guys who don't complain and they just do the work, and then you have guys who complain about everything. To see that you don't have those types of guys. I feel like that's really helping us a lot because no one's complaining, so everyone knows that this man next to me, he's gonna go out there and fight these same minutes that I'm gonna fight."

If anyone was going to complain, it would have been Friday in the heat, humidity and while coaches put them through two hours of rapid-fire action. The offense won a few battles but the defense ruled the day again as it has most of camp.

"Today was a tough day, and for us to just go out there and communicate, fight through it, keep pushing through it, having one another's backs, echoing calls, and we got those stops against the offense," Jackson said. "You know, it's Bears on Bears at the end of the day. One win, we all win.

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"But just for us to go out there when we've got a lot of guys down, so guys gotta do these seven to 10-play reps and no substitution, and just seeing everyone go out there and still fly around, still keep up the intensity, still have the mental focus and things like that that we need, I feel like days like this is showing how you build."

Jackson could have been one of the complainers as a veteran who has enjoyed success in the old 3-4 defense. He has approached this camp willing to take on change. 

"You can approach this thing different ways," Jackson said. "You can approach it like, 'Oh man, here we go, starting over.' You can approach it like, 'Man, it's a fresh start, new coaches—I'm all in.' "`

It's probably best to approach it that way when you're in a pivotal year. No one has made this pronouncement publicly but it doesn't take reading tea leaves to figure out Jackson needs to make some plays this year. 

Jackson hasn't had an interception two years and his play has been inconsistent. He got a big pay raise two years ago and is the sixth-highest paid safety in terms of average annual salary at $14.6 million, according to Spotrac.com. He also is the only safety among the 34 highest paid to have gone without an interception in the past two years.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to measure a safety's play beyond interceptions but the takeaways help. And they're the goal of this new coaching staff.

Jackson doesn't back down from his own problems and sees this season as away to start over.

"Me personally, I just feel like the years I had, I wasn't satisfied with them, didn’t live up to expectations and standards that I set for myself," he said. "So to go out there this year is like a whole new start, whole new season, whole new team." 

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