Suspensions behind him, Asa Jackson vying for Ravens' third cornerback job

The Baltimore Sun

Instead of stressing about opportunities squandered and paychecks missed, Ravens cornerback Asa Jackson is living a much different reality today.

After being suspended for eight games last season and four games as a rookie for separate violations of the NFL performance-enhancing drug policy, Jackson has vowed there won't be a third misstep.

Unlike his first two NFL seasons, Jackson has filed the necessary paperwork with the NFL for a medical exemption. He's allowed to take Adderall, a prescription drug which is commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Jackson was suspended twice previously for unauthorized usage of Adderall.

"Absolutely, what's happened in the past it makes you appreciate everything," said Jackson, whose suspension last year cost him $225,882 through the loss of eight $28,235 game checks. "I'm really excited to finally get a full season of football. It's been two years since I got a chance to do that. Now, it's time to do that. I'm walking a straight line and doing everything the Ravens' way."

Jackson is competing for the Ravens' third cornerback job behind starters Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith. He worked with the starters Sunday when Webb and Chykie Brown were out with injuries.

"We're all out here competing, but, at the end of the day, we're all teammates," Jackson said. "I just want to do the best for the team, whatever my role may be. I want to be the best player I can. I'm trying to gain a spot with a lot of playing time this year.

"That's definitely one of my goals. Whatever happens is fine as long as I make the team and can help contribute in any way. That's all I want to do."

A 2012 fifth-round draft pick from Cal Poly, Jackson played in four games last season on special teams. At 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, Jackson is a bit undersized, but is known for his speed and return skills.

So far during camp, Jackson has provided solid coverage as he's shadowed receivers with quick footwork.

"He has really jumped out there and impressed everybody, players, coaches," secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "He’s doing a lot of things we knew he could do. 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."

In college, Jackson recorded 199 career tackles and eight interceptions with three returned for touchdowns.

Now, Jackson is hoping to start producing in the NFL after two suspension-shortened seasons.

"I'm someone who will do anything they can for the team, at nickel, or corner, returning punts or kicks or covering kicks," Jackson said. "I'm just someone who will come out here and work as hard as they can."

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