Los Angeles Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson is looking to turn the page on his first season in Los Angeles.
After deciding to move on from the New England Patriots following his first four years in the NFL, Jackson, an undrafted free agent in 2018, was determined to get his talent appreciated elsewhere. The Chargers stepped in, and offered Jackson a five-year, $82 million deal last offseason. However, his 2022 season was mired by a preseason ankle injury, a midseason benching, and ultimately a season-ending torn patellar tendon.
Speaking with NFL.com on Thursday, Jackson opened up about his recovery process heading into his second season with the Chargers.
"It's more mental than physical. Physically, I'm working every day," Jackson said. "Hopefully, the goal is to be 100 percent when the season gets here. But you gotta enjoy the journey. We'll see how it goes when the season gets here, but my goal is to be at 100 percent. Right now we are still in the phase of OTAs. I haven't gotten into the training camp process yet. I have a doctor's appointment after minicamp, and I'll know from there my schedule if I'll be ready."
The Chargers will hold their mandatory minicamp on June 13-14, and it sounds like Jackson has adjusted to his new locale after an up-and-down 2022.
"It's a big transition coming from a different team, but now L.A. feels like home," Jackson said. "It's a big city, I love the city, the weather, and you just gotta love playing in a city like L.A."
Last season, Los Angeles made its first playoff appearance since 2018. With Jackson hoping to be back on the field soon, the former Pro Bowl cornerback takes last year as a lesson from the game.
"It's a year we can learn from. Making the playoffs is big," Jackson said. "I feel like we fell short, but we can improve that this year. That's the fun part about football. Each year you have a chance to prove that you can be better than the year before. That's the fun part, getting together this year and bond with your teammates trying to compete and win a championship."
A key part of the Chargers' success in 2022 came from the offense. The team ranked third in the league in passing due to quarterback Justin Herbert. Herbert, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft, has seen other quarterbacks get paid this offseason. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts signed a lucrative extension, and Lamar Jackson inked a record-setting deal just before the start of the 2023 NFL Draft. Other signal-callers in line for an extension are Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, who were drafted in the 2020 first round like Herbert.
While Herbert made his first Pro Bowl, running back Austin Ekeler is also looking for a better payday. This past week, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said the team still has "no interest in trading" Ekeler.
Jackson knows Herbert and Ekeler play a big part in the Chargers' offense and hopes they figure out their situations before Week 1.
"We need those guys. Those guys are a big piece of this franchise," Jackson said. "I hope they get a deal done. Hopefully, they make something happen. We definitely need those guys since those are big pieces of this L.A. offense."
With the Chargers opening their season against the Dolphins, Jackson has one clear goal for his second season with the team: "My No. 1 goal for next year is to have a healthy season. To remain healthy this season, that's my goal. I'm just excited to be out there and compete with the team. Like I said, it's a process, the season is not here yet but we are working toward it and working hard each and every day."