CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) – Early this season, Donte Jackson became the first Carolina rookie to nab three interceptions in his first three games. He picked off Matt Ryan once in Week 2, then had two takeaways against Andy Dalton in Week 3.
He later notched his fourth interception against the same Tampa Bay team the Panthers will square off against on Sunday. That’s as many picks the second-round draft pick had in three seasons at LSU.
Jackson attributes his rising to the occasion to his competitive nature.
“That’s not just me as a rookie. That’s me as a competitor,” he explained. “You know, just coming out there and getting ready to play against whoever the opponent is. Trust the game plan and just get ready to play.”
The Panthers hope to have Jackson’s knack for making plays back when they visit divisional rival Tampa Bay on Sunday. The turnover he grabbed from Ryan Fitzpatrick helped a defensive effort that allowed the offense to score a season-best 42 points. That game was the team’s last win before slipping into a three-game rut.
“Play within the system, man. Play within the scheme,” Jackson said. He also ran track at LSU and was once known as college football’s fastest player. “You know, not try to do too much … Let it come to me.”
Jackson sustained an injury early in last week’s clash with the Seahawks. He was a full participant in Thursday’s practice after missing Wednesday. The Panthers will hope to have his playmaking abilities after three straight losses, including two by a combined four points.