It's been more than five years since Bennett Jackson was drafted by the New York Giants in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame.
But Oct. 20 in Seattle, Jackson made his regular-season debut for the Ravens on special teams.
Baltimore earned its best win of the season to date that day -- a statement 30-16 victory against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. For Jackson, however, the game was the
conclusion of a difficult journey
filled with hardships and injury, but also complete belief in himself and his ability to make it back on the field.
"I've never felt like in the NFL that I didn't have the talent, I just felt like I had to get put in the right situation," Jackson said on
Glenn Clark Radio
Oct. 25. "Every time I'd work my way up, I got hit with injury and it's kind of created the story of my career and how it's been thus far."
Jackson spent training camp this year with the Ravens, then signed with the New York Jets. The Ravens claimed him off the Jets' practice squad after season-ending injuries to Tony Jefferson and DeShon Elliott.
"I just feel like this past year has been such a change in events in so many ways. Being in Baltimore, and then going to the Jets, then coming back from the Jets and within a week I'm playing my first game with the Ravens," Jackson said.
In his first-ever regular-season action, Jackson recorded two tackles -- one solo, one assisted -- on special teams in the victory for the Ravens. He said he tried to stay relaxed when he got out on the field for the first time, and when the time came for him to make a play, he was ready for his moment.
"I felt great running down there," Jackson said. "I just ran, avoided my guy and saw him coming right through my lane and thought, 'Perfect. First kickoff, first tackle.'... Then I got another one assisted later on in the game and by that time, ... I was just kind of playing at that point trying to make plays."
"I kept my gloves just because those were the first gloves I played in, and then I want to frame my jersey or something after the season and have those gloves with it," he added.
Members of Jackson's family made the trip out to Seattle for the Ravens' matchup with the Seahawks, including his mother. He said she was an integral part of his decision to stick with the game because she was always there for him -- especially when he had to live with her for a few months at one point.
Now, looking back at that time, Jackson said his mother, family and a handful of trainers and coaches were on his mind in Seattle and are why he's back in the league.
"Without my family really, I kind of wouldn't be in the position I was at to make the process of grinding through things a lot less stressful -- which made it easier on me because it was stressful enough just going so many years with uncertainty or being in the position where you wanted to be," he said.
Jackson also touched on the following topics ...
- Jackson said that this Ravens squad is completely different from any team he has been a part of since college. He feels that the organization has "been building something for some time now," and that things are just a little different in Baltimore.
"We've got a tight-knit group and a good mix of guys in certain spots, especially coaches. I feel like the relationship aspect of things is way bigger in Baltimore than places I've been," Jackson said. "I was happy to be back. It felt like I was back in the right spot."
- Also on the subject of his current team, Jackson believes the Ravens can achieve great things this season and that the franchise has a bright future.
"We definitely have the guys ... and the staff to [be a great team]. We've just got to go out there every week and just execute it," he said. "A lot of teams lose games just by shooting themselves in the foot sometimes. But if we can go out, just play our game, limit big plays and whatnot, we should be OK."
- Jackson discussed his thoughts throughout his journey, particularly recovering from ACL surgery (2015). He said he learned a lot about himself during his time out of the league, and that no matter what happened, he was always working to be ready for an opportunity.
"Some things I just can't control, so there's no point to sit and just stress about some things," Jackson said. "The only thing I can really do is work hard and be consistent at what I'm doing and then when my opportunity did come, I wouldn't have any regrets of, 'Dang, I wish I trained harder and I was ready.'"
For more from Jackson, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox