Saying that cornerback J.C. Jackson‘s first year with the Chargers could have gone better would be an understatement. Jackson, who signed a five-year, $82.5MM contract with the Bolts last March, underwent ankle surgery in August to repair an issue that cropped up during training camp, which forced him to miss the 2022 regular season opener. He also missed Los Angeles’ Week 3 contest, and while he suited up for the club’s next four games, he suffered a patellar tendon rupture in a Week 7 loss to the Seahawks and was sidelined for the rest of the campaign
Even when he was on the field, Jackson did not come close to living up to his contract. In five games, he surrendered a 149.3 QB rating on passes thrown in his direction, according to Pro Football Reference. Pro Football Focus was even less friendly, charging him with a 152.4 rating and assigning him a dismal 28.1 coverage grade.
Nonetheless, it is clear that the Chargers are continuing to count on Jackson in a big way. The team neither drafted nor signed a cornerback, save for a handful of UDFA’s, so it will return Asante Samuel Jr., Michael Davis, and Jackson as its top three boundary corners.
GM Tom Telesco‘s approach to the cornerback position not only suggests that he expects a rebound effort from Jackson, but also that he is confident in Jackson’s medical prognosis. While a torn patellar tendon can be one of the toughest injuries to overcome, Telesco says that Jackson is making good progress in his rehab (via Daniel Popper of The Athletic (subscription required)). Popper said that Jackson was working with a trainer on the first day of the Chargers’ offseason program, and that he had started running on a treadmill.
Telesco is optimistic that Jackson will be able to participate in training camp. That would obviously go a long way towards getting the 27-year-old back to the Pro Bowl form he displayed as a member of the Patriots, thus bolstering a defense that surrendered the seventh-fewest passing yards per game in 2022 despite what was essentially a lost season from last year’s biggest free agent investment.
Another high-profile Charger who is currently on the mend, quarterback Justin Herbert, provided a recent update on his recovery. Herbert, who underwent offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, said he has not thrown a football since the procedure and estimates that he is 75% recovered (via ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry).
Herbert expects to begin throwing this month, and the five- to six-month recovery timeline he provided would allow him to be at full strength for training camp. Telesco, who picked up Herbert’s fifth-year option for 2024 and who has commenced negotiations on what will be a massive contract extension, clearly does not have any concerns about his quarterback’s health status.
When asked about those contract talks, Herbert did not provide much of an update.
“I’m kind of left out of those negotiations, and I think my job now, my focus is to be the best quarterback that I can be and to rehab my shoulder,” the 2021 Pro Bowler said. “I’ve got complete faith in the Chargers organization and the front office. They’ve done such a great job of taking care of us as players, and I’ve loved to be a part of this team, being a part of this organization, and it’s kind of beyond my control of as to what happens now. I’m just doing everything I can that I can control.”