Asa Jackson knows that he has to be a quick learner.
He missed all the of the Ravens Organized Team Activities (OTAs) last month because of an NFL rule that held him out of practice until his school Cal Poly finished final exams. He participated in rookie minicamp for a weekend in May, but had to play catch-up when he returned to Baltimore last week for minicamp.
"It was tough because I didn't have all the terminology and all the coaches walking me through stuff," Jackson said. "Being able to get that experience for the last couple days during the minicamp was real important for me, and I feel like I'm doing well."
One of Jackson's strengths, he said, is his mental approach to the game. Even though he has to work from behind to make up for missed time, Jackson still feels like he has a solid grasp on the defensive schemes.
"I think I've shown that I can pick up things relatively quickly because by the third day [of minicamp] I felt like I had the stuff down pretty well," he said.
When he came back for minicamp, Jackson was quickly worked back into the rotation at cornerback and in the return game.
The fifth-round pick showed glimpses of his athleticism and quickness, as he made several nice plays during individual drills to break up passes or get in good position to make a tackle. But like most rookies, he also got beat at times during 11-on-11 drills, and gave up some long pass competitions.
Heading into training camp, Jackson will likely compete with veterans Corey Graham, Danny Gorrer and Chykie Brown for the No. 4 cornerback position. Jackson will also have to prove himself on special teams, as he will challenge Lardarius Webb and Jacoby Jones for the starting returner job.
As a late-round draft pick who is also slightly undersized (5-foot-10, 190 pounds), he knows that the next few months are going to be key in showing the coaching staff that he deserves a spot on the roster.
"I'm just trying to show that there's a reason that the Ravens picked me and that reason is that I'm a playmaker when I'm on the field," Jackson said. "It doesn't matter how big or small you are. If you make plays and know what you're doing, that's something that's going to be of value to this team and that's what I'm trying to show."