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Unfiltered Notebook 12/18: Jackson stays motivated in breakout season

The third-year cornerback has emerged as one of the best young players on the Patriots roster.


J.C. Jackson is currently second in the NFL in interceptions and this weekend in Miami he'll cross paths with the league leader Xavien Howard. Jackson credited his divisional rival with helping motivate him to keep picking off passes.

"X is a great shutdown corner but he's got nine picks, I've got seven," said Jackson on Friday afternoon via Webex. "I'm not too far behind, he's motivated me to get my picks. He sets the standard right now, he sets the bar. I got to go get it."

Since making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2018, Jackson has seen his playing time increase in each of his first three seasons, while improving in all critical areas including passes defended and interceptions, while recovering the first three fumbles of his career. He also leads the Patriots' defensive backs in opponent quarterback rating when targeted at 59.6.

It's been an excellent season for him and, though he's battled through injuries, he hasn't missed a game.

"I feel great," said Jackson. "It's toward the end of the season, my body's going to get some bruises, I'm going to be sore, it's something that I can fight through. As football players that's just something we go through. We just gotta fight through it, keep working, keep pushing."

This weekend, Jackson will face rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who could be shorthanded with many of his weapons appearing on the injury report. Jackson wasn't phased by who may or may not play, noting Tua has made progress and the Dolphins are playing very well.

"We prepare for everybody," said Jackson. "We expect everybody to play, everybody to be 100% and to play. It's the same routine, same focus."

The cornerback welcomed a trip to sunny Miami after a week spent dealing with a snowstorm, but weather aside, the goal remained the same.

"Our biggest thing is to win, that's the main goal," said Jackson. "There's nothing else to say, we just gotta win this game."

Webex Quotes of Note

Myles Bryant on getting comfortable on defense:

"I think there's definitely a threshold of comfortability that you need to pass, but I actually look at 2020 as kind of a blessing in disguise, just in terms of us not being able to do stuff really outside of football and then just really being locked in on football. With that, there's not really too many distractions out there and I could just hone in on whatever game plan we have going into this week or what our new coverages are, what the other team does. For me, when I go out there I just want to be a guy who can communicate left and right or behind me and help everybody out and especially the older guys since a lot of them handle communication. Just trying to take some slack off of them, trying to be another guy who is able to talk out there."

Devin Asiasi on learning from the vets:

"I draw inspiration from each and every one of the veterans. Seeing how hard they work, seeing how detailed they are in their preparation and things like that. I'm trying to improve that part of my game and my preparation and things like that. They definitely have a great influence on myself and my rookie season, just trying basically to find our way and find our groove in the whole situation and be productive."

Michael Onwenu on preparing for the Dolphins:

"We've just been approaching this game day-by-day, trying to get better, improve on our fundamentals and focusing on this game. Obviously, we played them already but it's not gonna be the same game. Everyone is all harping on that, studying film real hard. These guys aren't gonna play the same way, they know what you do and know what your weaknesses are."

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