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Kareem Jackson has been the bane of the Texans' defense ever since he was drafted with the 20th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft out of Alabama. Jackson had high expectations coming out of college, and it was believed that he would be able to anchor the Texans' struggling secondary.
Jackson, however, only seemed to exacerbate the issue. He helped lead the Texans to finish with a historically awful secondary, and the Texans finished 32nd in the league in pass-defense.
In his first season, Jackson struggled with nearly every aspect of playing cornerback in the NFL. He could not play zone-coverage, and even though man-press was supposed to be his strong suit, he struggled with that as well. He had difficulty locating the ball in the air, as he could not rotate his head and also cover his man. He got burned periodically, and allowed opposing offenses to make huge plays down the field.
Most of Jackson's problems stemmed from the tough transition of being a college cornerback to having to guard opposing team's No. 1 NFL receivers. In the 2011-12 season, Jackson was moved to the No. 2 cornerback slot, due to the free-agent signing of Jonathan Joseph. Jackson improved immediately thanks to his new role, even without a full offseason to work with his new defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips.
Jackson showed great improvements in his sophomore season, although he was certainly not successful. He showed many of the same problems that he had in his rookie year, even though they were not as prominent as they were before.
This upcoming season will be a make it or break it one for Jackson. He will either put his past struggles behind him and remain the Texans starter, or he will display his same old difficulties and perhaps force General Manager Rick Smith to find his replacement.
There is hope yet for Jackson, however, as he will have a full offseason and training camp to learn from Phillips, who is one of the best in the business. Phillips has a great defensive mind, and he is definitely the man that can transform Jackson into a capable starting cornerback.
If Jackson can become a new player this season, it will be huge for the Texans. They will have solid starters at every position on defense, which will be huge for them considering they have to go against some of the best offenses in the NFL this season. If Jackson improves greatly, it will be assured that the Texans will win more games than if he does not.