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'I'm Getting There': J.C. Jackson Details Progression Through Training Camp

Day 15 FTP

Below are three takeaways from Chargers Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore, cornerback J.C. Jackson and defensive lineman CJ Okoye's media availability on Tuesday:

Jackson's camp progress

J.C. Jackson has been coming along strong all throughout Chargers training camp, as the cornerback continues to work his way back from a serious knee injury.

The Bolts cornerback has flashed his playmaking ability over the last couple of days highlighted by his pass breakup during 7-on-7 drills Monday, plus some competitive battle during 1-on-1 drills on Tuesday.

Jackson, speaking to reporters for the first time since mid-June, expressed his excitement about his return to the field during camp and how the last couple of weeks have been for him.

"I'm excited to be back in training camp with the team," Jackson said. "I'm working each and every day. There are going to be some good days and some bad days, but I just have to keep working, keep going.

"It's going to be a big year for the team, especially on the defensive side of the ball," Jackson added. "I can't wait to see what we have this year."

Jackson's teammates and coaches have praised him throughout his recovery process, and it's something that's been paying off during camp as he continues to make plays and be able to get more reps in.

It's all been a work in progress for the sixth-year cornerback.

"I'm still working on it," Jackson said his level of confidence. "There's still a lot of room for improvement, a lot of room to grow with the teammates — on the back end especially. It's still early right now, we're still in preseason. I'm getting there. I'm working my way there."

"I would say that building confidence, it starts in practice," Jackson later added. "You have to build good habits and create good habits on the practice field for it to carry on to the game."

Jackson's second year with the Bolts has been quite different than his first from a learning standpoint as well.

This time last year, the cornerback was preparing for his debut season with a new team, learning the defense and familiarizing himself with everything that came with it.

Fast forward to now and Jackson has seen growth in the classroom, noting the differences he's seen when comparing the years.

"I would say that this year, it has slowed down for me way more than last year," Jackson said. "Last year was my first year. I was still trying to understand the defense, still trying to understand my teammates, the coaches.

"This year, I feel like I'm at home, and I'm playing way faster — you can tell that I'm on it," Jackson added. "The coach says the call, I'm already on it. I get it this year. I just get it, I understand it."

Jackson did not want to put a projection on himself but does expect to participate during joint practices later this week — something the cornerback is excited to use in order to evaluate where he is against other opponents.

"I'm excited. I can't wait to see where I'm at," Jackson said. "I get to compete against not just my teammates, now it's against another team.

"It's going to be fun," Jackson added. "I love to compete and I can't wait until they get here."

Key joint practices ahead for offense

For the first time since last season, and perhaps the only time before Week 1, the Chargers starters will have the chance to face another opponent when the Saints come to Costa Mesa on Thursday and Friday.

The Bolts will host New Orleans for two joint practices later this week at Jack Hammett Sports Complex ahead of their preseason matchup on Sunday afternoon.

And for the Chargers offense under Kellen Moore, the two practices will be as good as an evaluation as they'll get going against another team before the start of the regular season.

"Certainly, these joint practices historically, for most of us, really emphasize the 1s," Moore said. "You get a ton of reps in there. It's huge."

The Chargers offense has battled back and forth with the defense throughout camp including Tuesday, which saw one of the most intense practice sessions so far.

And now Moore's offense will look to continue that momentum versus a Saints defense that will give them different looks than what they've seen through camp.

Just like during the preseason games, Moore hopes to continue seeing progress from his offensive group in all facets.

"I think it's just a continuation of what we've emphasized," Moore said. "It's another opportunity against a different defense. Structurally, it's always good.

"This is what makes these joint practices awesome, is that it's a different structure than what we've practiced against," Moore added. "It will be good for us to see that stuff. At the end of the day, it's about operation, execution and just continuing to refine everything."

Check out the best photos from the thirteenth day of Training Camp 2023 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa!

Okoye reflects on 'amazing moment'

The last couple days have been quite unforgettable for Chargers defensive lineman CJ Okoye.

Okoye, who was allocated to the Bolts as part of the NFL's International Pathway Program this past offseason, tallied a sack in his first ever organized football game on Saturday against the Rams.

And since then, Okoye's incredible story has made headlines through the NFL world, as the defensive lineman continues to marvel at not only the last couple of days, but the last year of his life as he continues to try and improve everyday.

"It was an amazing moment for me," Okoye said. "Watching it is like putting all this together, in one, it was a moment for me. it was amazing moment seeing my teammates, see my D-line room go crazy like that. I wish to go back there again."

"This time last year, I was in Nigeria. I didn't even know if I would come to the [United] States or play football," Okoye later added. "Sometimes it hits me, 'You're in the States with the Chargers in the NFL. You need to make the most out of it.' I'm shocked every day, but I still need to go out and do my thing."

The sideline reaction to Okoye's sack tells the story of how much support the team has given him — and it's something that means a lot to him.

"Teaching someone something and seeing them make progress shows that you're a good teacher," Okoye said. "I believe — I know — I need to learn more. But seeing them go crazy like that for me it means a lot. I know if I asked them for more, they can give me more.

"It's an amazing feeling seeing my D-line room go 100 for me cause they know I would do the same for them," Okoye added.

By now, Okoye's story has been heard around the NFL World, as he even joined the Rich Eisen Show Tuesday.

But the defensive linemen wouldn't call himself a celebrity just yet.

Okoye continues to have an even keel approach to try and continue to improve his game, as he progresses through his football journey.

"I don't think I'm a celebrity yet, it's just my story. I have never played football, just magically got a sack," Okoye said. "I won't lie, it's an awesome feeling but you don't go too high, you don't go too low just stay in the middle and do your thing.

"For me, it's just learning the most I can do, go out there and learn because we have the best d-line in the entire league," Okoye added. "I want to learn more plays and learn more techniques."

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