In the 2022 NFL season, Denver Broncos strong safety Kareem Jackson is looking to go where few Alabama alumni have gone.
The upcoming campaign will be Jackson’s 13th in the NFL. Twelve Alabama alumni have appeared in at least 13 NFL seasons, including defensive back Deshea Townsend.
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Jackson is also preparing to make his 13th full-time NFL entry this season. Only five Alabama alums have been regular starters for at least 13 NFL seasons — Cornelius Bennett in 14 and Bart Starr, Lee Roy Jordan, John Hannah and Ozzie Newsome in 13 apiece.
Jackson said he plans to play “as long as my body will allow me to. I feel pretty good right now. Obviously that comes with me a lot, I do things on my own outside of the facility and even here. It takes a little while to get started, but I still feel great, so for me, I’ll go for it 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 pick of Nick Saban’s first national championship team in Alabama, Jackson played cornerback for the Houston Texans in his first nine NFL seasons before moving to safety with the Broncos in the last three.
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
Alabama alumni who have 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 forces Jackson and his teammates to adapt to a different defensive system.
“For me, I’m still learning,” Jackson said last week. “A new defensive scheme, although it’s a bit similar to what we did last year, but the terminology is different. We do things differently from what I’m used to, so I always go to the meeting rooms, I learn. I’m able to help guys trying to deal with different things. Obviously seeing a new offense on a daily basis, obviously with (quarterback) Russ (Wilson) being here, seeing a guy like him everyday for me, I’m still learning, so mentally I’m able to stay engaged.
Jackson and new head coach Nathaniel Hackett have gotten along well and spend time during Organized Team Activity practices “twittering” at each other.
“I love that he goes back and forth with me,” Jackson said. “The energy he consistently brings every day is the sign of a great leader. For us, it’s a lot of fun. I think it gets everyone going. It gives us something to look forward to each day rather than everyone shutting up. Sometimes this stuff gets a little old. For me, everything is fun. This is one of the things I look forward to on a daily basis. »
Hackett said there was a lot to like about Jackson.
“I kinda like me Kareem, I’m telling you,” Hackett said. “I like his intensity and his competitiveness. I think it’s something that pops up every day. He’s a guy who, heck, he might be as old as me, but he plays hard on every shot. He does it. He talks nonstop. He plays the game the way it should, and I love that about him, and I love tweeting with him because it just brings that energy and excitement to training because it’s real football.
One of the young defensive backs Jackson manages in the NFL is Patrick Surtain II, who was also a first-round pick from Alabama. Surtain joined the Broncos as the ninth draft pick in 2021 and made the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team.
“I say it all the time about Pat: a guy with that size and that speed and still having the technique that he has is rare – to be that young, anyway,” Jackson said. “I think I know for him he wants to improve in every aspect, and he goes out every day and he puts in the work. But I think just the little things, he sort of tweaked the little things. I sit next to him in meetings, so just little things I see, I just try to help him.
“It was a night and day difference from his rookie year, and he had a hell of a rookie year. But just seeing him now makes him so much more patient in everything he does. I can’t wait to definitely see what he does on Sunday.
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The Broncos still have three OTA practices this week and a mandatory three-day minicamp next week in their offseason schedule before the summer break.
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