‘That’s what we definitely need’

A prized free agent at the top of the 2022 class, JC Jackson would have been a welcome addition to any NFL team.

For a Los Angeles Chargers team that finished one win away from the postseason, Jackson’s insertion could be crucial in Los Angeles’ return to the playoffs.

Bolts cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. is certainly singing the praises of his new teammate.

“JC Jackson is a dog,” Samuel said Monday, via the team’s transcript. “He’s a ballplayer. He wants to get better and he wants to work. That’s what we definitely need; a hawk that just wants to work.”

Jackson has simply been one of the best ballhawks in the NFL, having 25 interceptions in his four-season career, with 17 over the last two seasons. In 2021, he had a league-leading 23 passes defensed for the New England Patriots.

With his addition, the Bolts’ defensive backfield now features Jackson, Samuel, free-agent signing Bryce Callahan and multi-year starter Michael Davis at corner spots with pro bowler Derwin James and Nasir Adderley back at safety.

For a Chargers defense that ranked 29th in points allowed, Jackson, along with other new additions like Khalil Mack, will be considered to make an immediate impact. While the season is over three months away, he is already having an influence on Samuel, who is entering his second season.

“We haven’t really been doing football stuff, just talking to him and stuff like that,” Samuel said. “I can definitely tell that he’s trying, not necessarily to be a big brother, but a mentor: whatever he sees and whatever I ask of him, he’ll tell me and try to help me improve.”

Samuel got off to a great start in 2021, but a concussion sidelined him for a while and set him back. He will return for a Chargers defense that will feature the stellar additions of Jackson and Mack and plenty more new faces to boot.

At this juncture in the offseason, Samuel doesn’t know how or if his role will change, but he’s open-minded about the prospect.

“That’s a good question. Honestly, I’ll let the coaches do what they think I should do,” Samuel said. “I’m a team player; whatever we have to do to win the game, that’s what I’m going to do. I really don’t care.”

The Chargers ranked 22nd in the NFL last season with 11 interceptions, as three players, including Samuel, tied for the team’s lead with two interceptions. Jackson has never had fewer than three interceptions in a season.

In Samuel’s eyes, Jackson has filled an area of ​​need for the Bolts, who have big aspirations for the upcoming 2022 season.

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