Houston Texans Training Camp: Texans Full Steam Ahead with Kareem Jackson at Safety

Patrick D. Starr

In a move that has been toyed with since Bill O’Brien arrived to the Houston Texans, the defense has finally made the move: putting Kareem Jackson to safety. Jackson has worked at safety in-game situations and even played a full game there in the Texans divisional round loss to the New England Patriots in the 2016 playoffs.

Now heading into the 2018 season, the 9-year veteran is coming off of the best production of his career with 73 total tackles, and is now being asked to make a position change deep into his career.

“It’s a challenge, but for me I like to think of myself as being a smart player,” Jackson said of the move to safety. “Instead of getting calls, you have to give the calls. You have to get guys lined up. You have to give the calls to the corner, the linebacker, whoever’s on your side of the field. You have to get the guys lined up. Just seeing, being there, being able to see the whole field, the whole formation and stuff like that, that’s definitely one of the biggest changes.”

Jackson will line up at safety next to prized free agent acquisition, Tyrann Mathieu, who has played at an All-Pro level. Mathieu has taken to the defense and is building new relationships with Jackson by his side.

Kareem Jackson on the transition to safety this season. #Texanspic.twitter.com/fq90n2zxo1

— patrick (@PatDStat) July 29, 2018

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“I think it’s important, especially as defensive backs,” Mathieu said of playing next to Jackson at safety. “Any time we have a miscommunication, it’s a touchdown. We don’t get that benefit of the doubt. We have to be on the same page constantly. We have to understand how each other plays each coverage and we have to understand how each one of us sees the game. It’s going to help us out.”

Working as the “star” (nickel back) position of the defense led coach Bill O’Brien to believe in Jackson and his ability to take on the position change. Jackson played both the boundary and star roles prior to the 2018 season under O’Brien.

“He’s a versatile guy. He’s concentrating on safety now… He’s one of those guys back there that’s kind of a utility, that can do some different things,” O’Brien said of Jackson. “Right now, he’s playing safety but helping us on special teams doing some different things. So, he’s doing a lot of different things.”

Versatility remains the hallmark of an O’Brien-led team and Jackson fits that bill. He is just fine with his new role with the Texans.

“It makes me feel good,” Jackson said of O’Brien trusting him to make the move. “That’s one of the things that I take pride in, my game and being able to play multiple positions, being able to play corner, the ‘star’ spot, and now safety. For me, it’s about being versatile. If I can be versatile, I can help this team any way possible. That’s what I’m all for.”

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