Asa Jackson Feels He Can Unify Secondary


Watching the Ravens lose a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to the San Diego Chargers was just as painful, if not moreso, for cornerback Asa Jackson, as it was for those playing.

He was on the Ravens sideline, dressed in sweats, for the first time since injuring his toe in early October. He could only give minor suggestions to his fellow cornerbacks as Philip Rivers and the Chargers marched down the field.

Now Jackson can actually do something about it.

He's eligible to return to the playing field for the first time since early October. He's been practicing for two weeks, and with the Ravens secondary needing as much help as it can get, the expectation is that Jackson will suit up in Miami.

"There's a little bit of anxiousness, but that just tells me that I'm ready to get back out there," Jackson said. "I can't put a percentage on it, but hopefully the coaches feel I look good enough and they'll have me out there on Sunday."

Baltimore gave up 61 points and 965 total yards of offense to the Saints and Chargers during the past two weeks. Of those 965 yards, 803 came through the air.

The Ravens have had to integrate two new cornerbacks, Anthony Levine and Danny Gorrer, into the mix with Jimmy Smith (foot) out for the remainder of the season. That shake-up has affected the unit's chemistry, as even Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace could see.

"I see a different group of guys probably still learning how to play together," Wallace said.

That's where Jackson feels like he can help.

The third-year veteran knows how to play within this secondary. While he doesn't have a ton of experience with just five games and four starts this season, he's been running with the first-team defense since the start of training camp.

"I'm not going to come in and have 15 picks in these last four games. It's not going to be anything like that," Jackson said.

"But what I think I can bring is helping the communication and bringing in someone who has a little more experience playing corner in this defense. It's tightening up that communication and bringing a lot of energy and focus to every defensive play. That's all I can do."

From afar, Jackson thought the Ravens may have had too many communication problems on defense the past several weeks.

"I think it comes down to our communication and believing in each other that, not only will we be in the positions that we're supposed to, but that you can fall back on your brother to help you get out of a tough situation," he said. "We might not have had enough of that over the last couple weeks playing as a unit rather than playing as a couple individuals. That's what we're working on this week."

Jackson's teammates are eager to have him back as well. Jackson had spelled Lardarius Webb while he was out earlier this season due to a back injury. Now Webb will get to play alongside him.

"Asa is a game changer," Webb said.  "It's awesome to have him back.  Before he went down, he was making plays."

"He brings more knowledge and experience," added safety/cornerback Matt Elam. "With his speed and his knack for the ball, Asa can be a big advantage for us."

Jackson played reasonably well during his limited time before the injury. In his four starts and five games, he notched 20 tackles and one pass deflection. According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson gave up 22 catches for 209 yards and one touchdown.

"I think I was playing alright," Jackson said. "I was really getting comfortable and starting to get rolling. I was close to really breaking out. Fortunately, I think that even though I haven't had as much physical work in the past two months, I think the mental side of it has been able to keep me close to that level."

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