Before reporting to Halas Hall on Thursday, Eddie Jackson turned to an old friend — and a Bears rival — for advice.
The Packers’ Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, another former Alabama safety, helped ease Jackson’s transition from college captain to rookie.
“He just told me to come in, work hard, learn the playbook … ” he said Saturday. “Just come in ready to work. Just know it’s a job interview. You’ve got to come in and compete. Nothing’s going to be given.”
The Bears’ fourth-round pick knows the uncertainty of football; in October, he had a rod inserted into his left leg after breaking it while returning a punt. That’s slowed his integration into the Bears’ rookie minicamp; defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he’s been limited to individual drills.
When he’s healthy, Jackson could have Fangio and special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers arguing about where he’ll make the biggest impact.
“That probably would be a debate,” Rodgers said.
The Bears drafted the safety to inject ball skills — he had seven interceptions over his last two years in college — into a defense that posted only 11 takeaways last year.
He figures to get the first crack at returning points, too, after returning 11 for 253 yards last year.
“He got in the end zone twice against SEC teams — That’s not a slow conference,” Rodgers said. “He’s a little bit inexperienced, but his production is off the charts.”
Jackson is eager to show off first-hand. He insists he’s 100 percent — “I feel like I can do anything,” he said — but understands his new trainers being cautious.
“I could say it’s definitely hard, especially coming from where I came from,” he said. “I just want to go out there and compete and show everybody what I can do.”