NFL teams are facing the difficult task of cutting their rosters down from 90 players to 53 in the coming days. Every team has players on the roster bubble.
There are some who believe that cornerback and return man Asa Jackson is one of the players that could be in danger of not making the final 53-man roster. Jackson is showing his versatility, which is making a strong case for him to earn a roster spot.
Versatility is an attribute that the Ravens look for in their players. Jackson gives the team a player that is able to bump inside and cover slot receivers as well as line up outside. Winning on the outside is something that Jackson has
focused on doing over the last couple of years. Going against the taller receivers in the NFL can be a tough task for the 5’ 10” corner. Jackson said that he wanted to be more physical on the outside especially in press coverage.
The Ravens also have Jackson as an option in the return game. He is capable of returning both punts and kickoffs. Finding another opportunity to help the team win is something that Jackson cherishes.
“Being able to play on defense and being a returner on special teams, it’s something that has been my dream since I was eight years old,” Jackson said. “Anything that I can do to be a part of it; especially here in Baltimore is what I want to do and what
I am overjoyed to do.”
Jackson showed what he can contribute in the game against the Washington Redskins. Jackson returned a kickoff 103 yards. The return came on one of the few times the opposing kicker didn’t force a touchback. Unfortunately, he ran out of gas at the end of the play and couldn’t get into the end zone. Regardless, he put the Ravens in a great position to score.
There was a play that Jackson would surely like to take back. The error came when he was back to receive a punt. It had a good amount of hang time, which allowed the coverage to get to him as soon as he caught the punt. He didn’t signal fair catch and fumbled the punt after he got hit as soon as he caught the ball.
Jackson says that he would have done things differently the next time.
“I absolutely would have called fair catch. When a ball is hanging like that and wasn’t kicked super deep, I had to fair catch it,” Jackson said. “There wasn’t any play that could be made but I was trying to make a play for my team. I should have just played smart. It’s a learning process for me.”
A fair catch in that situation would have been ideal. He was pressing to make something happen but the best play to make was to signal fair catch and field the ball cleanly. That’s a part of situational football, which is something Jackson says that he is working to improve by studying film study. He also says that he is learning the game more with a focus on the tendencies of opposing offenses and specifically the wide receivers that he has to cover.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh once described Jackson as a “squirrelly player.” He is a smaller defensive back but makes up for it with his feisty play. Jackson’s footwork is remarkable. It allows him to mirror receivers and is especially valuable when he covers slot receivers. He said that he has played football for as long as he can remember and gets plenty of joy from it.
Jackson has enjoyed his time in Baltimore and really wants to continue his career with the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He has been able to stay with the team because of his ability to fill multiple duties with one roster spot. It remains to be seen whether or not he will be on the roster when the Ravens travel to Denver to face the Broncos in the season opener.