J.C. Jackson has been the latest undrafted rookie to emerge and become a major contributor to the Patriots and after finishing with the second-most interceptions in the NFL (9), Jackson is looking to continue the consistent improvement he's made since arriving in 2018 out of Maryland.
"Life is pretty good man, back in training camp, back with the team," said Jackson after Saturday's training camp session. "It feels good to be back, I got to get back in my mode."
Tagged with a second-round restricted free agent tender, Jackson could be eyeing unrestricted free agency next offseason, but he remains focused on replicating the same grind that has led him to become one of the biggest ballhawks in the NFL.
"I feel like I've gotten much better but I'm still trying to improve every day," said Jackson.
With Stephon Gilmore sidelined on the PUP list, Jackson could be poised to take on an even bigger role in 2021, but Gilmore's impact on Jackson has been significant.
"Steph's like my big brother man," said Jackson. "I look up to Steph, he's a good leader, he carries himself as a leader. Watching somebody in their prime, somebody who won Defensive Player of the Year who is one of the top corners in the league, being able to be on the same team as him, it's a blessing."
Despite a potential opportunity to take over more of the number one cornerback role until Gilmore is healthy and happy with his contract, not much has changed in his approach, while his goals remain entirely team goals.
"Just to be better than I was last year," said Jackson of his goals. "Be a better team, better defense. I don't really have any self goals. I approach it the same way I did my rookie year, just come out here trying to get better and play the best and be the best that I can."
Quotes of Note
Ronnie Perkins on the wet rookie ball recovery before practice:
"A few vets told me we had it today, I was like what's that? Honestly, it was fun, it was like a fun way to start off, just everybody having fun joking around shooting water at us and having us dive in puddles. It was just really fun to see everybody with high spirits before we got to work."
Tre Nixon on his wet ball approach:
"They kept telling me jump early, so a lot of guys were waiting for the ball then jumping so as soon as I saw guys getting wet I just dove. I went two-for-two."
Gunner Olszewski on his camp grind:
"Everybody learns differently. It takes a lot for me to learn, I got to do a lot of studying. I don't sleep much during training camp. That's just how I learn. If you know what you're doing you can do everything faster so maybe you don't even get faster but you have a plan and that helps out a lot."
Sony Michel on fighting through the challenges and injuries of 2020:
"Yep, it made me a better player, a better person, especially knowing how to take care of your body, trying to get your body back to where it was, if not even better and being a better person, and knowing how to deal with a little bit of adversity and trying to come back from some of those little setbacks."