Asa Jackson’s return to the Ravens did not resonate deeply until he made his way on Wednesday morning to the entrance of the team’s training facility in Owings Mills – a place he had called home for four years.
“To be honest, it didn’t click for me until I came back this morning and I was like, ‘Wow, this is really happening,’” the cornerback and return specialist said after Wednesday’s practice. “Not in a million years did I think I would be back playing here, but I’m just so happy and blessed that the coaches are giving me another opportunity, and I’m going to do all I can with it.”
Selected in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Ravens, Jackson was signed on Tuesday to the practice squad, filling a vacancy created when inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor was promoted to the 53-man active roster on Saturday.
With the uncertain availability of return specialist Devin Hester Sr. (thigh) and cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (concussion), Shareece Wright (hamstring), and Jerraud Powers (groin), Jackson could be in line to play Sunday against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
“That’s what I came here to do,” Jackson, 26, said of contributing. “I came here to play and help this team in any way. That would be awesome, but it’s not a new thing to me. I’ll be prepared and ready to go if that’s what they need me to do.”
Jackson’s career has been tumultuous. He was suspended twice for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. After playing in 18 games, Jackson was released in September 2015, signed to the practice squad later that month, and then waived with an injury settlement in November after suffering an ankle injury.
Since then, he has spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals, who cut him in late August. Jackson said he is grateful for the opportunity to return to the Ravens and gain a second chance.
“Football is really a gift,” he said. “Every single day, you should be thankful for it because you don’t know when it’s going to get taken from you or when your career is going to be over. I’m just coming in with that kind of appreciation every day regardless of how I’m feeling physically or mentally. I’m just being appreciative and letting my play show that on a daily and rep-by-rep basis.”