Joined: 25 Jul 2018
|SPARTANBURG , S.C. (AP) Panthers rookie cornerback Donte Jackson is showing he can talk the talk.
Now coach Ron Rivera is hoping the team’s second-round draft pick can walk the walk.
The Louisiana State standout has already turned heads at training camp, displaying impressive speed – and a cocky swagger to match.
”He is fast, and I love his confidence level,” Rivera said of the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Jackson. ”We haven’t had a guy like that since Josh Norman.”
Norman was an All-Pro cornerback for the Panthers in 2015, the year Carolina went 17-2 and reached the Super Bowl. But he was released the following season because of a contract disagreement and signed with the Washington Redskins.
The Panthers have found one solid replacement at cornerback in James Bradberry, and are in search of another. With veteran Ross Cockrell going down with a leg injury on Monday, Jackson may be called on to fill the other starting spot.
Not surprisingly, Jackson said he’s up to the task.
”Coming into the NFL I have always felt like I belonged here,” Jackson said.
Panthers cornerback Kevon Seymour has seen firsthand Jackson’s swagger. Seymour said when running back Christian McCaffrey was racing down the field, Jackson turned to teammates and said, ”He might outrun y’all, but he ain’t gonna outrun me. I’m way too fast for that. I’m like electricity. Shoooooom!”’
With that, Seymour started to laugh.
”That is how much confidence he has,” Seymour said.
Back in minicamp , Jackson told reporters he’s like the Beyonce song ”I just woke up like this.”
When Rivera heard that he broke into a wide grin.
”He is a personality,” Rivera told the team’s website in May. ”He’s got a lot of confidence. You see it on the field. You see it when you talk to him. You watch it in his gait, the way he carries himself. That’s the type of attitude you have to have if you want to play in this league. You have to have a certain type of swagger. Josh Norman had it. He had it from Day One. You guys saw it. He struggled a little bit, but because of his swagger, he was able to bring himself back. Well, this young man’s got something.”
Jackson, who said he’s been a talker since he played youth football, welcomes the comparisons to Norman.
”I’m not quiet out there, and I play the same position” as Norman, Jackson said. ”We both talk a lot and compete at a high level so that’s going to draw a lot of comparison.”
Said Bradberry: ”He’s definitely confident in himself. I wouldn’t say he’s much of a trash talker. But that is the way people are going to perceive him, because he is very confident in himself. But he does talk a lot. And he’s very fast.”
Jackson’s speed in coverage has been on display on several occasions during training camp. The 5-foot-10, 188-pound cornerback got beat by rookie wide receiver D.J. Moore on one play, but then quickly recovered and broke up the pass.
”He’s not the biggest corner but he’s real fast,” Bradberry said.
When a reporter asked who is the fastest player on the team, Jackson responded by saying ”Donte Jackson , No. 26.”
And when asked if there is a player in the league he can’t cover, he said, ”C’mon man, you know the answer to that. I don’t feel like there is anybody I can’t cover.”
His Twitter handle reads Donte ”Action” Jackson because he says ”I’m about that action, simple as that.”
The Panthers sure hope so.
”It’s good to see,” Rivera said of Jackson’s confidence level. ”But remember, you have to back it up.”
IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — While Aaron Donald’s second consecutive contract holdout drags deep into training camp, Todd Gurley and the rest of the Los Angeles Rams‘ offense have identified a silver lining to the persistent absence of the NFL’s defensive player of the year.
“We were talking about that last night,” Gurley said with a grin. “We were like, ‘Literally, if A.D. was here, he would (mess) up the whole practice.’ Because it’s like, you get the handoff and he’s right there. A guy like that, you have to sit him back and tell him to tone it down a little bit just so you can get some good reps.”
Although Donald’s menacing presence looms large in his teammates’ minds , he sometimes seems a distant figure to the Rams, who have completed their entire offseason program and all but the final few practices of training camp without their All-Pro defensive tackle. His teammates check Twitter and ask each other for news about the negotiations, but significant updates have been scarce.
Donald is holding out while seeking a contract that would make him one of the NFL’s highest-paid players regardless of position. The Rams and Donald’s representation have made almost no public pronouncements about the state of their negotiations, and coach Sean McVay dutifully provides daily updates about the talks despite having no new information almost every day.
Something appeared to move last week when general manager Les Snead said the sides were “in the same ZIP Code, area, ballpark,” and McVay expressed optimism about increased momentum.
But until a significant move happens, the Rams will wait: Ndamukong Suh will continue to practice without his new teammate alongside him, while Gurley and Jared Goff will continue to practice without the threat of Donald looming just across the line.
“We’ve talked about that for two offseasons now,” Goff said. “It’s not nice not having him here, (but) it’s nice being able to get off some good plays and not have to worry about him ruining the play, I think is a better way to put it. Yeah, we miss him and hope he comes back soon.”
The Rams have designs on Super Bowl contention after their breakthrough year under McVay, and they downplay the notion that Donald’s continued absence will hurt their plans in any significant way. Donald didn’t rejoin the Rams last season until the day before their opener, and he still had no problem fitting into new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ scheme once he returned to the field in Week 2.
With a full year of Phillips’ coaching behind him , Donald should know what to do from the moment he arrives. McVay also said the Rams aren’t worried about Donald being in top physical shape, since they know he is working out aggressively at home in Pittsburgh.
Yet the Rams obviously would prefer to build their defense around several weeks of work and film study with Donald. McVay acknowledged he speaks to Donald regularly, but the coach largely exchanges pleasantries and inquires about Donald’s family instead of asking about contract talks.
When Donald reports, McVay laughs at the notion it would disrupt anything about the defending NFC West champions’ preparations.
“That would be a disruption that would be more than welcomed right now,” said McVay, who had been disappointed with his club’s focus in practice earlier in the week.
The Rams have already showed their willingness to ink long-term contracts during this offseason when they signed Gurley and receiver Brandin Cooks to lengthy, lucrative deals.
Donald missed a reporting deadline last week that consigns him to restricted free agent status in the upcoming offseason, but neither side appears to be worried about it. The Rams have always said they would prefer a long-term deal with Donald, but they also have the option of using their franchise tag on him in 2019.
Until Donald and the Rams figure out a way forward, Gurley will continue to burst through the line at practice without worrying about Donald — and McVay will continue to answer questions about the negotiations in each of his daily media briefings.
“I don’t really know anything else,” the second-year coach said with a laugh.