During the 2022 NFL season, Denver Broncos strong safety Kareem Jackson is looking to go where few Alabama alumni have gone.
The coming campaign will be Jackson’s 13th in the NFL. Twelve Alabama alumni have appeared in at least 13 NFL seasons, including one defensive back, Deshea Townsend.
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Jackson is ready to make this season his 13th as a fulltime NFL starter, too. Only five Alabama alumni have been regular starters in at least 13 NFL seasons – Cornelius Bennett has 14 and Bart Starr, Lee Roy Jordan, John Hannah and Ozzie Newsome have 13 apiece.
Jackson said he planned to play “as long as my body allows me to. I feel pretty good right now. Obviously that comes with a lot of me just doing stuff on my own outside the facility and even here. It takes a little while to get kind, but I still feel really good, so for me, I’m going to go until my body tells me it’s time to hang them up. “
Jackson has started 168 of his 176 regular-season games. A first-round draft pick from Nick Saban’s first national championship team at Alabama, Jackson played cornerback for the Houston Texans before moving to safety for the Broncos in the past three NFL seasons.
The Alabama alumni who have appeared in more NFL regular-season games than Jackson include:
· Punter Chris Mohr: 239
· Tight end Howard Cross: 207
· Linebacker Cornelius Bennett: 206
· Tight end Ozzie Newsome: 198
· Quarterback Bart Starr: 196
· Cornerback Deshea Townsend: 191
· Linebacker Lee Roy Jordan: 187
Quarterback Ken Stabler: 184
· Defensive end Jarret Johnson: 184
· Guard John Hannah: 183
The Alabama alumni who started more NFL regular-season games than Jackson include:
· Linebacker Cornelius Bennett: 204
· Tight end Ozzie Newsome: 191
· Guard John Hannah: 183
· Linebacker Lee Roy Jordan: 174
· Tight end Howard Cross: 171
Denver has a new coaching staff this year, which has adjusted Jackson and his teammates to a different defensive system.
“For me, I’m still learning,” Jackson said last week. “A new defensive scheme, although it’s kind of similar to what we ran last year, but the terminology’s different. We’re doing things differently from what I’m used to, so for me, I’m still going into the meeting rooms, I’m learning. I’m able to help guys just try different things. Obviously, seeing a new offense on a daily basis, obviously with (quarterback) Russ (Wilson) being here, seeing a guy like him every day, I’m still learning, so mentally I’m able to stay engaged. “
Jackson and new head coach Nathaniel Hackett have hit it off and are spending time “chirping” at the organized team activity practices.
“I love it for him to kind of go back and forth with me,” Jackson said. “The energy that he brings every day on a consistent basis is a sign of a great leader. For us, it ‘sa lot of fun. I think it kind of gets everybody going. It gives us something to look forward to daily rather than everyone is just quiet. Sometimes that stuff gets kind of old. For me, it’s all fun. It’s one of the things that I look forward to daily. “
Hackett said there’s a lot to like about Jackson.
“I love me some Kareem, I’m telling you,” Hackett said. “I love his intensity and competitiveness. I think that ‘s something that shows up every day. This is a guy who, heck, he might be as old as me, but he plays hard every snap. He gets into it. He ‘s talking nonstop. He plays like he should, and I love that about him, and I love chirping back and forth with him because it just brings that energy and excitement to practice because that is real football. “
One of the young defensive backs that Jackson is shepherding in the NFL is Patrick Surtain II, who was also a first-round draft pick from Alabama. Surtain joined the Broncos as the ninth selection in 2021 and made the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie team.
“I say all this time about Pat: A guy with that size and speed and still has the technique that he’s rare – to be that young, anyway,” Jackson said. “I think I know for him he wants to get better in every aspect, and he comes out every day and he puts in the work. But I think just the little things, he’s been kind of honing in on the little details. I sit next to him in the meetings, so just a little stuff that I see I just try to help him with.
“It’s been a night-and-day difference from his rookie year, and he’s had a hell of a rookie year. But just seeing him now, he’s so much more patient just in everything that he does. I’m looking forward to definitely seeing what he does on Sundays. “
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The Broncos have three more OTA practices this week and a three-day mandatory minicamp remaining next week in the offseason for their offseason program.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter @AMarkG1General Chat Chat Lounge