NASHVILLE“Starting slow” seemed to be Tennessee Titans curse when their 2019 season got off to a 2-4 start. Corner Adoree’ Jackson’s personal mantra focused on staying steady.

“That’s the great thing about playing ball, you don’t have to say much, people already know,” Jackson told media via Zoom on Friday. “So, they’re used to trying to encourage as much as they can. Down the stretch everything just came into play. I didn’t do anything different, didn’t change up anything, and that’s just how it went about.”

The former 18th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft had the fifth-year option of his rookie contract picked up this offseason.

Jackson injured his foot and was ruled out for the team’s Week 8 game hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He struggled with the injury throughout the course of the year, ultimately missing five games over the campaign before returning for the team’s postseason trip to New England in the Wild Card round. Prior to Tampa coming to town, Jackson was Tennessee’s least targeted corner. His quietly strong play contributed to a defense that helped keep a languishing offense afloat before the Week 6 quarterback change gave the other side of the ball some breathing room.

But, what fans most associated with Jackson for the first half of 2019 was one disastrous special teams play.

An awkward attempt by the USC product to field a rolling punt against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football lost them a divisional game in the first month of the season. The ball was bobbled and Jaguars defenders descended upon Jackson before he could secure the football.

The turnover allowed Jacksonville’s offense to take over at the Titans’ 7-yard line and take an early 7-0 lead.

Punt returning duties were relegated to receivers Adam Humphries and Kalif Raymond for the remainder of the season. Jackson’s injuries nagged him and ultimately cost him the final month of 2019. When it came to playing purely corner, Jackson shined upon his return.

During the regular season, Jackson allowed a higher percentage of passes completed in his direction (66.7% up from 56.5%, per Pro Football Reference) but allowed fewer yards per reception (11), fewer receiving touchdowns (1) and missed fewer tackles (5) than his 2018 numbers in those categories (12.8, 6, 7). In his return to face Tennessee’s three postseason opponents, Jackson defended almost as many passes in those games (5) as he did the entire 2019 campaign (6). Jackson withstood tests from Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson and one half of Patrick Mahomes in the AFC Championship game when the Titans’ pass rush ultimately failed them.

Jackson withstood the test.

“It’s a blessing to be in this position, to play this game and to be able to go out there and do what you love with the people that you see every day and you enjoy spending time with,” said Jackson. “You don’t want to let them down and disappoint them, so I think once you understand that and grasp that understanding of the game of football and life, you may take it for granted or you may not, but things can happen in the blink of an eye. You never know. Once you understand that and grasp that, you’re out there to go play free and have fun and just enjoy.”

Joy in his playing style and the luxury to focus on what he does best sets the standard high for Adoree’ Jackson in 2020.

Featured Image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.
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