With Baltimore Ravens left guard Kelechi Osemele going to the injured reserve list this week, the Ravens could look to fill that open roster spot with second-year cornerback Asa Jackson.
The 23-year-old has finally finished serving out his eight-game suspension handed out by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. It was the former 2012-fifth-round pick’s second violation in as many years in the league as the young Jackson tested positive for the banned substance Adderall. There was a misconception between whether or not he received the prescription or not in time by receiving a doctor’s note, but Jackson held himself accountable and blamed no one but himself. As pissed off as Ravens head coach John Harbaugh had to be, he had to admire the accountability of the young man, who hopefully has learned his lesson.
Jackson could prove to have an interesting, yet small role on this team if he comes back to the practice field with guns blazing. Cornerback Jimmy Smith left with a groin injury in Sunday’s 24-18 loss to the Cleveland Browns. While Harbaugh said it was more of a safe move to keep Smith on the sidelines, you have to wonder what the deal is with the former 2011 first-round pick as he continues to have health issues. In addition to possibly having a role in dime or prevent coverages, one thing Jackson will definitely be expected to do is perform on kick and punt coverage units.
Harbaugh’s emphasis on special teams, given his background as a former special teams coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, has been noted with what he said during the Ravens’ bye week and his overall approach to coaching. While Jackson does have some return capabilities that he showed in the preseason, his tackling and speed to bring down returners is more of what the Ravens need right now.
Jackson was impressive throughout the preseason and while Harbaugh wants his character to improve as he seems to still be at an immature stage of his life, the team must know he is talented to hang on to him after an eight-game suspension. While he will likely not see virtually any time defensively, Baltimore will take any help they can get covering kicks as Jackson can provide a nice gunner on the outside.