Donte Jackson: My confidence is never shook

Lockett reception

CHARLOTTE – It's been a rough eight days for Donte Jackson.

It began in Atlanta last Sunday when the second-year cornerback openly questioned a couple of defensive play calls after the Panthers' loss to the Falcons. Those comments were then "handled internally" before Jackson on Thursday admitted he had apologized to coaches for being "totally out of line."

Then came this Sunday's forgettable 12-minute stretch against Seattle when the Seahawks made four plays where Jackson was the closest defender.

"I just want to make plays, and sometimes I just get away from myself," he admitted.

The trouble started midway through the opening quarter when Russell Wilson lofted a 44-yard completion to Tyler Lockett just over Jackson's outstretched hands. Four plays later, rookie DK Metcalf used his 6-inch, 48-pound advantage over Jackson to snag a 19-yard touchdown.

As the Panthers' defense came back to the sideline, interim head coach Perry Fewell intercepted Jackson for a chat.

"(I was) just telling him where to take his eyes. He was looking for the ball," Fewell explained. "Russell is an accurate thrower. He doesn't have to look for the ball; the ball is going to be there. Go play your man."

But Wilson and the Seahawks continued to make plays on their next drive.

Facing a second-and-18 from the Carolina 17-yard line, Wilson launched a 58-yard bomb to Josh Gordon, who got a step on Jackson before laying out to make an incredible catch. Four plays later, miscommunication between Jackson and safety Eric Reid left Lockett wide-open for a 19-yard score.

Linebacker Luke Kuechly was visibly frustrated, but moments later, shook Jackson's hand on the sideline before appearing to share words of encouragement.

"Everybody could kind of tell that I was flat, that I was really trying to bounce back from last week," Jackson said. '"Just keep your confidence D-Jack and keep going, you're going to make a big play for us.' I was trying to do it. I started a little slow."

So slow that Fewell thought about pulling Jackson.

"I considered it, and he was a little frustrated at times out there, and I know he was trying to play hard. He was trying to do the right things," Fewell said. "He was just so hyped and excited about what he was doing out there that he just kind of lost his way a little bit. I just felt like if we could steer him in the right direction, he would play better.

"We were just trying to get him coached up on what he should do versus what he was doing. We were just trying to manage the game at that point in time, and he was trying to get himself together."

View photos from Week 15 as Carolina hosts Seattle.

Jackson was much better in the second half and helped keep the Panthers in a 20-10 game when he stopped Lockett a yard short of a first down to force a field goal late in the third quarter.

"Everybody wants to always look at negatives, but there's positives in every game and Donte made a big play there," Kuechly said. "I'm sure when everybody goes back and looks at it, they'll understand that was a big-time play. He bounced back and that's what you look for."

Which is a silver lining the Panthers can at least hang onto right now. It's yet another way Jackson is reminiscent of former cornerback Josh Norman. Talented and brash, but also inconsistent and prone to mistakes a talented and brash player tends to make when he's young.

"Question: Josh Norman got to be Josh Norman when? What year?" safety Tre Boston asked Sunday night.

Answer: at the end of his third season. Norman regained his starting job midway through 2014, morphed into a Pro Bowl player in 2015 and cashed that rise into the biggest contract ever given to a cornerback.

"D-Jack's young," Boston continued. "With time, with guys like (safety Eric Reid) and myself around him to continue to teach him football, great coaches who can continue to dig into him and get it out of him; he's a great player. I see it in him. I just think there's little things that we can help him (with), just being able to coach him through the years. We don't expect him to be second-year all-world.

"Can he be special and be our playmaker? I think he can, and I think that will progress in the years to come, and I think that's what the fans can be happy about. This is Year 2 for him. Slow down."

Perhaps Jackson, who turned 24 last month, will get better with age. You may not be sure about him after these eight days, but he's sure not doubting himself.

"My confidence is never shook. My confidence is something that I'm known for," Jackson said. "My (social media) bios are 'cocky.' I'm known for my confidence, so my confidence doesn't go anywhere.

"I've just got to put good ball on the field, and that's what I'm going to do."

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