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Panthers electrifying CB Jackson draws comparisons to Norman

July 30, 2018
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Carolina Panthers' Donte Jackson (26) defends against Ross Cockrell (47) during an NFL football practice at the team's training camp in Spartanburg, S.C., Monday, July 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — Panthers rookie cornerback Donte Jackson is showing he can talk the talk.

Now coach Ron Rivera is hoping the team’s second-round draft pick can walk the walk.

The Louisiana State standout has already turned heads at training camp, displaying impressive speed — and a cocky swagger to match.

“He is fast, and I love his confidence level,” Rivera said of the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Jackson. “We haven’t had a guy like that since Josh Norman.”

Norman was an All-Pro cornerback for the Panthers in 2015, the year Carolina went 17-2 and reached the Super Bowl. But he was released the following season because of a contract disagreement and signed with the Washington Redskins.

The Panthers have found one solid replacement at cornerback in James Bradberry, and are in search of another. With veteran Ross Cockrell going down with a leg injury on Monday, Jackson may be called on to fill the other starting spot.

Not surprisingly, Jackson said he’s up to the task.

“Coming into the NFL I have always felt like I belonged here,” Jackson said.

Panthers cornerback Kevon Seymour has seen firsthand Jackson’s swagger. Seymour said when running back Christian McCaffrey was racing down the field, Jackson turned to teammates and said, “He might outrun y’all, but he ain’t gonna outrun me. I’m way too fast for that. I’m like electricity. Shoooooom!’”

With that, Seymour started to laugh.

“That is how much confidence he has,” Seymour said.

Back in minicamp, Jackson told reporters he’s like the Beyonce song “I just woke up like this.”

When Rivera heard that he broke into a wide grin.

“He is a personality,” Rivera told the team’s website in May. “He’s got a lot of confidence. You see it on the field. You see it when you talk to him. You watch it in his gait, the way he carries himself. That’s the type of attitude you have to have if you want to play in this league. You have to have a certain type of swagger. Josh Norman had it. He had it from Day One. You guys saw it. He struggled a little bit, but because of his swagger, he was able to bring himself back. Well, this young man’s got something.”

Jackson, who said he’s been a talker since he played youth football, welcomes the comparisons to Norman.

“I’m not quiet out there, and I play the same position” as Norman, Jackson said. “We both talk a lot and compete at a high level so that’s going to draw a lot of comparison.”

Said Bradberry: “He’s definitely confident in himself. I wouldn’t say he’s much of a trash talker. But that is the way people are going to perceive him, because he is very confident in himself. But he does talk a lot. And he’s very fast.”

Jackson’s speed in coverage has been on display on several occasions during training camp. The 5-foot-10, 188-pound cornerback got beat by rookie wide receiver D.J. Moore on one play, but then quickly recovered and broke up the pass.

“He’s not the biggest corner but he’s real fast,” Bradberry said.

When a reporter asked who is the fastest player on the team, Jackson responded by saying “Donte Jackson, No. 26.”

And when asked if there is a player in the league he can’t cover, he said, “C’mon man, you know the answer to that. I don’t feel like there is anybody I can’t cover.”

His Twitter handle reads Donte “Action” Jackson because he says “I’m about that action, simple as that.”

The Panthers sure hope so.

“It’s good to see,” Rivera said of Jackson’s confidence level. “But remember, you have to back it up.”

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