SPARTANBURG – Cornerback Donte Jackson and the Panthers kicked off training camp Thursday night at Gibbs Stadium and he's set on taking a major step forward in his second season.
"Most definitely. That's why I was going hard every day in the offseason, to make a huge jump," Jackson said after the first practice in Spartanburg. "That's what I'm expecting."
But Jackson spent most of his post-practice interview session looking back at 2018, and we all know why.
Jackson used Twitter to voice his displeasure with how he was portrayed on "All or Nothing" after the show spotlighted his frustration with coaches and teammates during the lead-up to a primetime matchup against Antonio Brown and the Steelers.
On Thursday night, he was asked to elaborate.
"I just felt like they had a lot of moments that they caught of me being myself, the natural jolly, great teammate. But they just chose to put out stuff that isn't me," Jackson said. "I'm not sitting here saying there was somebody else playing me for those moments. But you catch me at a different moment when I'm not being myself, that's what you're going to get…
"I wore a mic every other day. There were a lot of moments they could have put on there. They chose that little split moment of me being mad and frustrated, which a lot of guys were in that locker room when we weren't winning many games…
"For them to put that out there like I'm a jerk, I just wasn't feeling it."
Here's the thing about Jackson – he's not going to back down. In his mind, that's how he's gotten this far.
"That's me, man. I'm a confident player. I've got confidence in myself," Jackson said. "I've been like that my whole life. I've been the smallest guy my whole life. I had to be confident. I had to have an extra bite. I'm a pitbull. Anybody who doesn't understand that is merely a puppy."
His head coach has no problem with Jackson's response and his willingness to express his emotions.
"I'd much rather have a guy who takes it personal, that is upset, that in the heat of moment wants to be successful," Ron Rivera said. "I've got no issue with it."
And while Jackson may not agree with the way he was presented on "All or Nothing," he acknowledges the personal development that needs to take place if he's to take that step forward in 2019.
"Just getting more in the playbook and becoming more of a student of the game and not just an athlete," Jackson said. "Just making sure I get the mental part down, and I'll be alright."
View photos of training camp kick-off practice from Gibbs Stadium.