“I’m the new manager of Thieves Ave,” 2nd year corner Donte Jackson exclaims. He was going back on forth with Tre Boston, who spent the last two years in LA and Arizona. “I gave him a new little space on Thieves Ave…Under New Management,” Jackson continued.
It’s not unusual to hear Donte Jackson, one of the more boisterous members of the Panthers, talk trash in the locker room or on the field. Whether it’s about who can beat the former LSU dual sport star in a foot race, or who is the property manager of Thieves Ave, Jackson brings a young edge and swag to the squad that made him one of Panthers Nation’s favorite players to watch last year. But even with all the trash talk and bravado, there’s an undeniable growth that Donte has experienced between year one and two…and it started with how the 2nd year DB approached training camp.
“I’ve been locked in every day I got out here,” Jackson told me after grading his camp an A-. “I wanted to win every rep…wanted to compete against everybody. I wanted to practice everyday. My rookie year I got to practice 8 or 9 and I was like “damn, we got more?” This year I get to practice 11 or 12 and I’m just excited to get out there.”
Guys often talk about how fast the game is as a rookie and inversely how much it slows down in the 2nd year, but the real growth starts in the film room.
“I’ve been into film a lot. The way I watch it. Because the game has slowed down so much for me I can retain more information.”
And it’s in that room where players can hone in on the little things.
“My craft has gotten better…a whole lot better. Ive just been dialing in on my technique and dialing in on hand placement…As a rookie I was ready to just get to Sunday, but now I’m putting more time into preparation.”
Jackson and the rest of the Panthers defense will have their first test Sunday against a Rams’ offense that ranked among the league’s best last season – a challenge the new and improved Action Jackson is looking forward to.
“We just have to be ready to play fast. Those guys like to get up the field and they have a quarterback who can throw…I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get out there. I’ve been thinking about this since we got to camp. It’s finally game week and I’m ready to go.”