A youthful position for the Falcons got even younger when veteran cornerback Von Hutchins was lost for the year early in training camp. The injury left a handful of first- and second-year Falcons scrambling for starting spots in the secondary, and rookie Chevis Jackson out of LSU has taken advantage.
The third-round selection has stepped into the nickel back role vacated by Hutchins, and has been working with the first unit in the absence of Chris Houston, who has been nursing a shoulder injury.
As part of an ongoing series introducing the Falcons rookies, Jackson spoke recently with Times sports editor Brent Holloway.
Question: Knowing their situation with so many young cornerbacks, what was your reaction when you heard the Falcons were drafting you?
Answer: Well, my first thought was just that I was getting drafted, and I was excited. I didn’t really think about anything else until I was over the intial fact that I was getting drafted. After that, I was just trying to come in here, learn the playbook and get on the field.
Q: Did you expect to work yourself into a prominent role this early?
A: Everybody that gets drafted wants to come in and play. But like I said, I’ve heard so much about the NFL playbook, and I knew I would just have to come in and learn that as best I can. Hopefully I’ll be put in a position where I can compete.
Q: Can you compare the NFL playbook to what you experienced in college?
A: The LSU playbook was pretty thick, too, but as far as the terminology, it’s a lot harder (in the NFL). Everything’s different, and there’s so many things that we call differently. It makes learning the terminology harder.
Q: Tell me about (defensive coordinator Brian) VanGorder’s system, and how you fit into it.
A: Once you learn it, it allows you to play real fast. That’s kind of what we had at LSU. Once you learn the system, it’s like the back of your hand. It allows you to play fast and run downhill to the ball. It’s an attack defense, so it’s similar to what we did at LSU, it’s just more complex.
Q: So are you getting to the point yet were you can play naturally and not have to stop and think?
A: It’s going pretty well. I’m getting a lot more reps from minicamp and now in training camp. So I feel like I’m getting there.
Q: What do you add to the secondary?
A: I’m bigger than the other corners we have, so I can play with bigger receivers, and I think my skill set fits well in VanGorder’s cover 2 scheme.