Giants cornerback Adoree’ Jackson is about to begin his fifth year in the NFL.
But the 25-year old, who after signing a three-year deal worth $39 million with the Giants after his release from the Titans and who is all but certain to have a significant role in the Giants defense this season, said he’s feeling more like a rookie than the veteran he is.
“Just trying to come prove myself, just trying to get respect from my peers,” Jackson said after the Giants wrapped up their three-day mandatory minicamp.
One of Jackson’s many goals is to earn the trust of both his teammates and coaches, a process he’s tried to advance during the mandatory minicamp.
If he can deliver the kind of production for the Giants as he did in his rookie season when he allowed 56.7% of the pass targets against him to be completed and broke up a season-high 17 passes as part of a season-best 87.5 NFL rating, the investment in him will be worth it.
“He's fast, he's athletic, he can tackle, and he could get his hands on the ball,” said Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who is hoping to deploy more man coverage this year. “We are happy to have Adoree', his skill set, you could watch the tape and figure that out.”
Since his rookie season in 2017, when he appeared in 1,154 snaps, things had started to go downhill for Jackson, a Titans first-round draft pick.
He not only saw his snaps decline—last year he only played in 218 snaps due to a lingering knee injury)—his production has declined as well.
But in joining the Giants, Jackson is looking for a fresh start. He was part of the Giants defensive backfield retreat in Florida organized by Logan Ryan, one of his teammates from his days with the Titans.
“That was actually cool to do to meet everybody, see how we jell—the communication and competition part, and I think that's what I learned about everybody here about competing, everybody can seek advice out from each other, and if they have a question, or whatever it may be, it's not like somebody withholds the information from you,” Jackson said of the experience.
“They all want to see everyone eat and do well, so that's what I appreciate most about coming to the secondary. It's fun and it's exciting to be around.”
And how is he feeling now that he’s met the coaches and the rest of the staff in person and begun that process of earning their trust?
“Alive; I feel great. To be honest it's a blessing to be out here playing ball with the guys and see your teammates and see smiles and compete and to learn from each other,” he said. “I talk to my mom, I talk to my old lady, and they ask me how I’m doing, and I tell everybody I feel like it's a blessing to be here and be able to play.”
The next step for Jackson and the defensive secondary will be their growth in Graham’s defense, which is expected to play more man coverage this year than it did last year. And to that point, Jackson feels good about the direction the unit is headed.
“It's only the third day, so it's just us trying to build what we want to do and what we want to be, and everybody wants to be great,” he said.
“When we go out on the field, nobody wants to make mistakes, everyone wants to do their best out there and I think just hold each other accountable, but that's the best thing we can do so we don't want to put expectations on what we want to do. We just want to go out there and compete and just show it for ourselves.”
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