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Donte Jackson named team's Ed Block Courage Award winner

Donte Jackson

CHARLOTTE — Donte Jackson has always been known for his speed, so it was reasonable to wonder how he'd come back from a torn Achilles.

The answer is stronger than ever.

The veteran cornerback was named the team's recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award this season, honoring both his comeback and his leadership.

The award recognizes players from each team "who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage," and they're honored at an event in Baltimore each spring.

Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero said he'd been particularly impressed with Jackson's steady contributions this year and his reliability in a year when Jaycee Horn missed 10 games, and even the backups to the backups were getting hurt.

"It started off with him just trying to get acclimated to the system, coming off of his injury from last year, so I think he was a little slow to get going there," Evero said. "But what you've seen really since about the early part of the season is he's playing at a high level; he's playing the way we expected.

"Making plays on the ball, being very physical and run support, being aggressive, and he's really done a good job, and he's been a good, good leader for our room too."

Jackson suffered his injury in Week 10 last year and spent the offseason rehabbing in a way that left him stronger. Being in the weight room constantly from November through training camp allowed him to put on 10 pounds of muscle. He's still lean, but he's obviously more solid now. And after a career that's included a number of injuries, he's only missed one game this season.

"Definitely the durability," Jackson said of the advantages of the extra weight. "I just wanted to prove so much, but I just couldn't really couldn't get it rolling. I started getting injuries. But once I looked back, what really hurt me, it wasn't nothing to do with my style of play. It wasn't to do with my technique; it was all just to do with health.

"So I looked at all the things that I could that could help me stay healthy. Most of it was just putting on more muscle, changing the way I eat, lifting more, sleeping more, you know, running more stuff like that, just to make sure that I'm able to withstand a full season. It was just wanting to get back in the lab and start thinking outside the box and start changing some stuff up here and there."

Jackson's in his sixth season, and he said the goal was to play six more. So if that meant changing his diet and workout plan and adding things like beet juice and a lot more protein to his diet, so be it, even if it's something he never considered before.

"Not beet juice, not cherry juice, not none of that stuff," he laughed when asked about the nutritional changes. "After doing a lot more research, now I'm drinking collagen and stuff. You ask questions, and learn a lot more because you know, you can never know too much about the body. It's been the biggest component, and it came with 10 extra pounds of muscle, so I'm not mad about that.

"As a young guy, a lot of stuff that goes in one ear and other because you recover faster when you get an injury. Now, I just want to take a different approach."

He was always fast. He's always made plays when he's on the field. Now, with the help of advice from those who have been through it, he's put himself in a position to make plays even longer. He got tips on coming back from his injury from assistant secondary coach DeAngelo Hall, who suffered the same injury late in his 14-year NFL career.

"It helped a whole lot; knowing that he's a guy who not only played my position but played at a high level, pre- and post-injury, it was just a lot of insight," Jackson said of his new coach and a new mentor. "I actually found myself writing a lot of stuff that he said down. The stuff that he says to this day, you know, I'm saying. It was definitely a lot of positive insight just to see that he played several more years afterwards. It was definitely, definitely positive stuff."

2022 - Jaycee Horn
2021 - Jeremy Chinn
2020 - Brian Burns
2019 - Shaq Thompson
2018 - Julius Peppers
2017 - Graham Gano
2016 - Luke Kuechly
2015 - Cam Newton
2014 - Greg Olsen
2013 - Ryan Kalil
2012 - Ron Edwards
2011 - Thomas Davis
2010 - Jordan Gross
2009 - Dan Connor
2008 - Jake Delhomme
2007 - Mike Rucker
2006 - Colin Branch
2005 - Steve Smith Sr.
2004 - Mark Fields
2003 - DeShaun Foster
2002 - Kevin Donnalley
2001 - Patrick Jeffers
2000 - Mushin Muhammad
1999 - Mike Minter
1998 - Steve Beuerlein
1997 - Tshimanga Biakabutuka
1996 - Lamar Lathon
1995 - Brett Maxie

Go inside the training and weight rooms as Donte Jackson works his way back from his achilles injury in Week 10 of the 2022 season.

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