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2023 Training Camp

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Adoree' Jackson embraces rookie cornerbacks Deonte Banks, Tre Hawkins III


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When veteran Adoree' Jackson first moved from his traditional left cornerback position into the slot on July 31, it seemed to be little more than standard training camp experimentation. Players line up at several positions throughout camp as coaches seek to enrich their depth and flexibility. Jackson taking a few steps inside hardly seemed like a groundbreaking move.

But Jackson's transfer has had staying power. He has shown he can play the slot and just as important, sixth-round draft choice Tre Hawkins has demonstrated to the coaches he can play corner. Hawkins and first-round selection Deonte Banks have taken most of the first-team cornerback reps, which could well continue in the season opener vs. Dallas on Sept. 10. Jackson could conceivably open the season at corner in the base defense and move inside on likely passing downs. That is all to be determined.

"You saw some different things out there that you're like, 'What is he doing?'" defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "I mean, we consider everything. With the matchups that you would have, that gives you great versatility. We'll see where that goes.

"I think when you go into these games, in any sub package, you want to play your three best corners. Right now, those are our three best corners. There's nothing set in stone yet, you know what I mean? We'll see how it works out."

Martindale insists he has no trepidation playing two rookie cornerbacks.

"You've got to play the best guys," he said. "There's still a lot of competition going on out there. But it just so happens, they're both playing really well right now and they deserve the reps with the ones. That's what this league is all about. That's what our organization, and Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) and (general manager) Joe (Schoen) are all about. We're excited to see their growth. Every day is a new day for them as far as there's something else they find out, there's a different kind of shift, there's a different kind of movement. The faster that can become just natural to them instead of thinking while they're doing it, the faster you'll see them make more plays, and it's fun to watch."

Catch up on all the action from Tuesday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

While Banks and Hawkins are NFL newcomers, Jackson is entering his seventh pro season. He has started all but six of his 69 regular-season games and the overwhelming majority of his 4,075 career snaps have been on the outside. It's conceivable he'll line up regularly on the inside this year.

"Just working on being versatile," Jackson said. "What's great about this group is having (fellow cornerbacks) Darnay (Holmes), (Cor'Dale) Flott and Zyon (Gilbert) to be able to talk to and help me out while I'm in there and just trying to push each other to be better. It makes me comfortable and then at the end of the day, just playing football, studying, seeing different splits, reading your different keys and different things like that. Just to try to slow the game down. We always talk about communication and just one person seeing something can help out everybody on the defense so vice versa with the linebackers and safeties, whoever it may be, so I just think that's helpful as well.

"I said this two weeks ago, it kind of makes me feel like (former Giants defensive back) Logan Ryan in a sense. Being able to play outside, then play inside and do different things. If it comes to that understanding or whatever it is to help the team and be selfless but at the same time just thrive in the role that I'm given."

Martindale was confident Jackson could thrive in the slot.

"Just because of his coverage skills, number one, his speed, his athleticism," Martindale said. "Everything that made him our No. 1 corner last year, he still has."

It is possible Jackson will spend games shuttling between corner and inside, depending on Martindale's call for any individual play. What challenge will that pose for him?

"Probably just breathing, just resetting," Jackson said. "Understanding that you're not at corner, you're at nickel or vice versa. I think that's all it is but as I was saying earlier, just communication. Going out there and telling them, 'This way' or 'That way' or, 'I've got the linebackers or the safeties,' we're all on the same page, talking. Or we meet early throughout the week or throughout the day to help ourselves be able to play faster, so I think that's really the biggest key, communication and just being on the same page with everybody on the defense."

The Giants thought they were getting a likely starter in Banks, who was chosen 24th overall in the draft. They weren't nearly as certain about Hawkins, who was selected 209th. But Hawkins showed in the spring drills he has NFL ability and has continued to play well in training camp.

"I knew the player that Deonte was, and I just didn't know the level where Tre was at," Martindale said. "He's stepped up to every challenge that we've given him and he's playing well right now."

Both Banks and Hawkins started and played 37 snaps in the Giants' preseason opener last Friday in Detroit. Hawkins had five tackles (four solo) and Banks one unassisted stop.

"I think that when the lights came on in a real game, they both played very well," Martindale said. "Very well. That was fun to watch. I think that the practices (with the Lions) on Tuesday and Wednesday helped them with their confidence going into the game, the unknown fear of, 'What's this going to be like going against somebody else?' So, I thought that was really good for them."

Jackson is a mentor to the young cornerbacks, who have spoken about how his advice and example have accelerated their development. But they are also competing for playing time. Jackson is 5-11 and 185 pounds, while Banks is 6-2, 200 and Hawkins is 6-3, 195.

"They have some tangibles that I don't have," Jackson said. "Obviously, they're taller, longer frame corners, great in press and I really look at them to – obviously, I think it just levels my play. In a sense where I see them do great things like, 'Okay, I want to compete with them as well.' It's more of a you see them do something so it's like, 'Okay, I just want to show that I can do it, too, or I'm still doing it.' I think they appreciate that a lot.

"It's not like we're coming in just loafing. Just trying to set the standard and show them it's not just one day. So, every day you've got to come in and keep working, keep working. I think that's how they push me to show that at the end of the day, I am the oldest corner in the room and to be able to show them different things and show them how to do it, how to be a pro and then how to be able to keep doing it for as long as I have, which is going on year seven, to keep playing at this level."

Barring an unexpected development, the three corners will play together a lot this season.


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