SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Former Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson began his National Football League career with the Baltimore Ravens on Monday and Tuesday, participating in partial-squad practices.
Jackson, the only four-time All-Great West Conference first-team selection on defense and the conference's Freshman of the Year in 2008, was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Ravens last April.
The 5-10, 191-pound Christian Brothers High School (Sacramento) graduate is the seventh Mustang chosen in the top five rounds of the draft and the first since Ramses Barden was drafted by the New York Giants in 2009.
According to the Baltimore Sun, with limited bodies in the secondary the first couple of days of training camp, Jackson was a busy man during the first two practice sessions, chasing wide receivers up and down the field in 1-on-1 drills and manning his position in most, if not all, of the repetitions during team drills.
After getting 10 minutes of additional work in after Tuesday's practice, Jackson -- sweat dripping from his brow and trickling down his tattooed arms -- said he was thankful for the extra opportunities to gather his footing. He had missed three weeks of voluntary workouts this spring while finishing up classes at Cal Poly, and during the team's mandatory minicamp last month, Jackson admittedly felt lost running with veterans.
"I missed a lot of reps," the fifth-round draft pick said. "That was three weeks of work that everybody else had ahead of me. Now, even though it's tiring, taking every rep the past couple of days was good for me. You can study the playbooks, you can study the Xs and Os all you want, but until you get those live reps and really start feeling how the defense is supposed to be moving and how you fit into it, it's just not the same."
On Tuesday, with only rookies, quarterbacks and select veterans in the house, Jackson was one of three cornerbacks to practice. The others were veteran Cary Williams, who is working his way back from offseason hip surgery, and fellow rookie Jordan Mabin.
That means that Jackson and Mabin have done a lot of running and jostling with wide receivers these past two days. Jackson slept very soundly on Monday night and said he would likely do so again on Tuesday night.
But all those reps have Jackson feeling much more comfortable doing what he is required to do in the Ravens defense, and his man-to-man coverage skills stood out in individual drills Tuesday as he batted down at least four passes. Now, two days before the team's first full-squad practice on Thursday, Jackson's confidence is on the rise.
"Once [I] get a little bit of confidence, I can start playing how I played back at Cal Poly -- with a lot of intensity and a lot of swagger," he said.
Other stories on Jackson:
Asa Jackson vying for No. 4 cornerback role (NFL.com)
Is JacKson part of the best secondary in the NFL? (CSNWashington.com)
Jackson listed third on Ravens' depth chart at punt returner (pressboxonline.com)
Baltimore Ravens 2012 NFL Draft and Offseason Recap, Analysis, and Projections (nflmocks.com)
Photo courtesy of pressboxonline.com