Chargers’ J.C. Jackson will test his improving knee in Saints scrimmages

Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) trains during camp.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

J.C. Jackson said he expects to participate Thursday when the Chargers conduct a joint practice with the New Orleans Saints in Costa Mesa.

The session would mark his most significant step yet in his return from the ruptured patellar tendon that ended his 2022 season in Week 7.

“I can’t wait to see where I’m at,” Jackson said. “I get to compete against another team. It’s going to be fun. … I can’t wait till they get here.”


Entering his second year with the team, Jackson’s availability is a vital component for a defense looking to improve. If he can play, the Chargers’ secondary becomes notably deeper and more versatile.

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Jackson would man the outside cornerback spot opposite Michael Davis, giving head coach Brandon Staley the option of moving Asante Samuel Jr. inside and presenting the Chargers with their most dynamic group of playmakers.

Jackson had 25 interceptions from 2018-21 with New England. Samuel intercepted three passes in the Chargers’ AFC wild-card playoff loss at Jacksonville in January.

On Monday and Tuesday, Jackson participated in his most extensive stretches of practice as the Chargers readied to welcome the Saints for two days of joint workouts. The teams will play a preseason game Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) writhes in pain after injuring his knee  against Seattle last October.
Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) writhes in pain after injuring his knee against Seattle last October.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Jackson refused to put a percentage on how his knee feels but did say, “I’m ready to play football.” He also wouldn’t estimate whether he’d be available for the start of the regular season.


“I don’t want to put no projection on myself right now,” he said. “I’m working each and every day to be ready. If it’s Week 1 or Week 3, whatever week it is, I am going to be ready, mentally and physically.”

Before this week, Jackson’s practice usage had been limited each day. He also missed some time after experiencing soreness during an individual drill.

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When he does return, Jackson said he expects to be a more effective player than he was last year when he struggled adjusting to Staley’s system.

“This year, it’s slowed down for me way more than last year,” Jackson said. “Last year … I was still trying to understand the defense, trying to understand my teammates, the coaches.

“This year, I feel like I’m at home and I’m playing way faster. You can tell I’m on it. The coach says the call and I’m already on it. I get it this year. I understand it.”