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Why won’t Chargers’ Justin Herbert throw to J.C. Jackson’s corner of field?

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Los Angeles Chargers defenseman JC Jackson catches a ball at the NFL's training ground on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Costa Mesa, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
New Chargers defenseman JC Jackson made himself felt even during training camp. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Eight times in training camp, there was a lot to watch for Justin Herbert, the Chargers’ Pro Bowl quarterback, who enters his third season with almost limitless expectations.

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One thing JC Jackson said he noticed that Herbert kept throwing in the other direction.

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“He didn’t actually come over to my side,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if he’s afraid or what, but Herbert hasn’t come over to my side yet.”

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Jackson laughed as he shared his observation and then added, “Herbert is a great guy. I love training against him. I can’t wait to see what he does this year.”

In March, the Chargers signed Jackson to a five-year contract worth up to $82.5 million with $40 million guaranteed. His 25 steals since 2018 are the most in the NFL.

Jackson had his first camp pick on Friday when he hit a ball thrown by Easton Stick.

After four seasons with New England, Jackson joined the Chargers defense, which will feature two seasoned veteran pass rushers. Joey Boza as well as Khalil Mak.

Jackson said he has never played with such an impressive duo that gets out of hand. He speculated that the presence of Bosa and Mack might allow him to use his already elite skills even more.

“I think I can make more turnovers if these two guys play quarterback,” Jackson said. “So it must be fun.

The Chargers finished 21st last season with 11 steals. Jackson has had nine and eight interceptions, respectively, over the past two seasons.

Chargers cornerback JC Jackson relaxing before practice.
Corner JC Jackson says he expects to get more steals this season because of the Chargers’ great crash rushers. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

“There is no pressure,” Jackson said when asked about his new contract. “I just feel more excited. … This is nothing new to me. You’ll see when the season starts what I’m going to show this team.”

Regarding Jackson’s remark about Herbert, the defense coordinator Renaldo Hill smiled and dismissed the idea that the Chargers quarterback was avoiding one side of the field.

“Justin is confident too,” Hill said. So I don’t know if it is. JC is a big, physically developed guy. It is the presence there. But I don’t think Justin is afraid to throw the ball anywhere.”

Practical Observations

The Chargers returned to training after not being on the field on Thursday. Some takeaways from their 90+ minute session:

  • Woods, selected by Baylor in the third round, had a tough day. Hill explained that the rookie is still handling a defense that many veterans have described as difficult. “We threw a lot at him,” Hill said. “Sometimes you can see in his spinning things where there’s a little pause.” Hill still touted Woods’ potential and said that his game would improve as the season approached and coaches could cut his playlist for him to better play to his strengths.

  • veteran Sebastian Joseph-Day and rookie Otito Ogbonnia both knocked down passes at the line of scrimmage along a defensive front that the Chargers felt was a big improvement from last year.

  • Kicker Dustin Hopkins has made all eight attempts in team practice after failing earlier this week.

  • Cornerback Bryce Callahan on what makes wide receiver Keenan Allen such a strong cover: “It’s just that his route is down. He is truly changeable. … there’s a bit of voodoo in his itineraries, let’s just say.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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