Giants veteran CB embracing new role in defense

new york giants, adoree' jackson
New York Giants cornerback Adoree' Jackson (22) recovers the ball on a Carolina Panther turnover during an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in East Rutherford. Nfl Ny Giants Vs Carolina Panthers Panthers At Giants

The New York Giants are making some significant changes to their defense with an influx of new talent forcing them to alter their lineup. Rookie CBs Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins III have both excelled throughout the summer and appear to be fighting for starting jobs. However, both Banks and Hawkins are boundary cornerbacks, playing primarily on the outside. This creates a conflict within the lineup as veteran CB Adoree’ Jackson, one of the defense’s best players, also plays primarily on the outside.

To counteract this issue, the Giants have been testing Jackson’s ability to play in the slot this summer. This would be an entirely new position for Jackson to play, but the 27-year-old CB is embracing his new role in the defense.

Adoree’ Jackson embracing new role as a slot cornerback

Jackson is embracing his new role as a slot cornerback in the Giants’ defense, saying, he is just “working on being versatile.” Despite playing on the outside for the first six seasons of his career, Jackson could be moving into the slot in 2023 as the team embraces the talent of their rookie defensive backs.

In 2022, Jackson totaled 51 combined tackles and seven pass breakups in 10 games for Big Blue. He proved to be one of the team’s most valuable players in the postseason, holding Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson to just 47 receiving yards in the Giants’ Wild Card Round win on the road. Entering 2023, Jackson will be called upon to defend opposing teams’ best WRs, both on the outside and in the slot.

Wink Martindale values Jackson’s versatility

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is trying to get the most out of Jackson, valuing the versatility that the veteran CB brings to his defense. “I mean, we consider everything,” Martindale said. “With the matchups that you would have, that gives you great versatility. We’ll see where that goes.

“I think when you go into these games, in any sub package, you want to play your three best corners. Right now, those are our three best corners. There’s nothing set in stone yet, you know what I mean? We’ll see how it works out.”

Martindale is looking to get his three best cornerbacks on the field. Currently, those three cornerbacks are Jackson, Banks, and Hawkins. If Jackson can prove his worth in the slot, those three may end up being the first-team unit by the start of the regular season.

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Jackson is channeling his inner Logan Ryan

When asked about making this position switch, Jackson mentioned former teammate Logan Ryan as a source of inspiration. Ryan spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Tennessee Titans playing cornerback before signing with Big Blue in 2020 and making the position change to safety for the next two seasons.

“I said this two weeks ago, it kind of makes me feel like (former Giants defensive back) Logan Ryan in a sense. Being able to play outside, then play inside and do different things. If it comes to that understanding or whatever it is to help the team and be selfless but at the same time just thrive in the role that I’m given.”

Adoree’ Jackson via Giants.com

Ryan’s ability to move around the defensive lineup made him one of New York’s most valuable players. Jackson is hoping to have a similar impact on the defense in 2023.

Could the Giants end up starting two rookie cornerbacks?

It is rare that a team starts two rookies in such prominent positions on the football field. But with the way Banks and Hawkins are playing, the Giants may have no choice. As Martindale says, the team has to get their best players on the field:

“You’ve got to play the best guys. There’s still a lot of competition going on out there. But it just so happens, they’re both playing really well right now and they deserve the reps with the ones. That’s what this league is all about. That’s what our organization, and Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) and (general manager) Joe (Schoen) are all about. We’re excited to see their growth. Every day is a new day for them as far as there’s something else they find out, there’s a different kind of shift, there’s a different kind of movement. The faster that can become just natural to them instead of thinking while they’re doing it, the faster you’ll see them make more plays, and it’s fun to watch.”

Wink Martindale via Giants.com