BOURBONNAIS — Coach John Fox — Mr. Under-promise and Over-deliver himself — should know better than to drop a Hall of Fame name in reference to any of his players. But perhaps he just couldn’t help himself Wednesday. When Eddie Jackson makes plays, it’s pretty impressive no matter the circumstances.
Drafted for his ability to make plays on the ball, Jackson has not disappointed six days into camp.
The rookie from Alabama showed off his range, anticipation and knack for playmaking when he raced in the end zone to pick off a pass from Mark Sanchez in a team drill.
It was his second consecutive practice with a pick, and even more impressive than the one he got against rookie Mitch Trubisky in Monday’s non-padded practice. On a team that had one interception from a safety all season in 2016, even a training-camp pick against your backup quarterback is going to look big.
“He’s been a return man, particularly tracking punts,” Fox said. “Typically those guys — going as far back as a guy like [Hall of Famer] Rod Woodson — they have good ball skills, and he seems to do that pretty naturally.”
It’s only six days into training camp, and Jackson has a long way to go, but it doesn’t take much to spark the imagination. Jackson is a supremely talented athlete with a history of big plays — including five return touchdowns in 2015-16 for the Crimson Tide. He dropped to the fourth round after breaking a leg in October last year.
“He’s a very sharp guy, a very aware player, especially for a young guy,” Fox said. “Kids who come out of Alabama get pretty much a good taste of pro defense, particularly from a coverage standpoint — Nick [Saban] having been a secondary coach in the NFL for a long time. So they’re well-schooled.”
Jackson returned two punts for touchdowns at Alabama and will get a chance to win that job with the Bears. But if he continues to make plays in camp, he’ll soon be pushing incumbent starter Adrian Amos — if he isn’t already.
Amos, a fifth-round pick from Penn State in 2015, has no interceptions and eight pass breakups in two seasons as a starter.
“I played well as a rookie, but I feel I leveled off last year,” Amos said. “I need to take a jump and improve and get the ball more this year.”
That battle figures to intensify as camp ensues.
“That’s good that he’s making plays,” Amos said. “I wouldn’t say it puts pressure on me. It’s not like he makes a play, and I’m nervous. I’m happy for him.
‘‘I was in the same position when I was [a rookie]. The more plays we make as a secondary, that’s how much better we’re going to be. Everybody wants to start, but we’re a team. The only way we’re going to win is as a team.”
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