The NFL is about making plays.
Third-year cornerback Asa Jackson continues to make them in training camp and now the preseason.
Jackson hauled in a pretty interception in Thursday's 23-3 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason opener, further strengthening his argument to be the Ravens' No. 3 cornerback.
Jackson was in zone coverage and made the appropriate read before dropping towards the sideline. He came right underneath tight end Derek Carrier and made a difficult leaping interception with the receiver on his back.
"Asa's stepped up," Head coach John Harbaugh said. "He played that seven-route perfectly. He's got ball skills. He went up and got it."
Jackson mostly brushed off the play, but it's not one that cornerbacks always make. It was a good display of Jackson's improved football smarts and playmaking ability.
After missing a combined 12 suspended games during his first two years in the NFL, Jackson is taking advantage of his first crack at extended defensive playing time.
"Part of your job as a corner is to make plays, and make the plays you're supposed to make," Jackson said. "I set myself up in a good position and that's a play that I'm expected to make, being an NFL corner."
Jackson's playmaking has been in contrast to his main competition for the No. 3 job – Chykie Brown. Brown was in good position on two passes early in Thursday's game, but didn't turn to find the ball on either. He was flagged for pass interference both times.
Brown has had better practices recently, and follow up his two penalties with a pass breakup later in the game, but he has been outshined by Jackson thus far.
Jackson said he isn't focusing on the competition.
"It is what it is," he said. "I'm just going to keep going out there and make plays and try to be the best player I can to contribute to this team. It's not a one-on-one game, not a me-vs.-anything else game. It's a team game."
Veteran cornerback Dominique Franks also notched an interception later in the game. Working with the third-team defense in the fourth quarter, Franks picked off a pass from Josh Johnson intended for former Ravens wide receiver David Reed.
Franks also notched a one-handed interception in the end zone last week in training camp when he read a play-action pass and reacted in time to recover on a lobbed pass.
The Ravens signed the former Atlanta Falcon in late-June, but he has not been in much conversation for the competition at the No. 3 cornerback spot. If Franks keeps making plays, he may get more time with the first-team defense.