Brown entered camp as the leader, but Jackson seems to have closed the gap.
Ravens Secondary Coach/Assistant Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo was asked for an update on the competition last week.
“I’m going to talk about Asa first,” Spagnuolo said. “He has really jumped out there and impressed everybody – players, coaches. He’s doing a lot of things we knew he could do.”
Jackson is a 5-foot-10 former fifth-round pick in 2012 who has always shown promise.
What’s set him back, in large part, was a four-game suspension during his rookie season and eight-game suspension as a sophomore. Both infractions reportedly stemmed from unauthorized usage of Adderall, a drug used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
But Jackson has matured and moved beyond his infractions. Now he’s competing without a cloud hanging over his head.
“He’s a feisty player, and people are going to knock him because of his lack of height, but he plays big. He’s been really good,” Spagnuolo said.
Jackson has been impressively physical during training camp. He gave tight end
Jackson isn’t an outside corner, so he’s been focusing on playing inside at nickel, where he often needs to sort through a lot of traffic.
“I think my press has gotten better,” Jackson said. “I think there’s still room for improvement there, but I think I’ve gotten a lot better than where I was this time last year. And I’m better at playing the deep ball. Those are two things that I’ve focused on.”
While Jackson has stood out in camp, Brown has stood out for different reasons. Playing on the outside, Brown has had trouble limiting deep gains. He’s been beaten a few times by Steve Smith Sr. and once by
“That’s what practice is for,” Brown said. “It’s early in training camp. It’s only Day 5. You’ve just got to keep on playing, put the old plays behind you and keep going forward.”
Brown said he hasn’t lost his swagger, however.
“I’m good. Everything that people are saying about me, I just keep doing me, keep getting better,” he said.
“[Smith] is a veteran, a 14-year vet. There’s a lot of stuff that he knows that I don’t know. But that’s what I’m in practice for, I’m learning. I’m getting better every day. Going against him is a good challenge and I’m up for it.”
Spagnuolo said Brown has come “leaps and bounds” from where he used to be. He still has all the tools to be a very strong cornerback with speed, size, long arms and a strong work ethic. Brown will often be close in coverage, but has had trouble making a play to knock the ball away or prevent a reception.
He started to do that Monday night at M&T Bank Stadium. Brown deflected two passes. His only glaring mistake was a holding call down the field.
“I had probably my best day out of the whole training camp,” Brown said afterwards. “This is just the beginning.”