Crimson Tide in the NFL: Secondary stars becoming defensive leaders
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The NFL preseason is finishing up the second week of games tonight and we have covered 34 former Alabama players that will be playing in the league this season. Our 2015 previews continue today with a look at two former members of the Crimson Tide secondary who have made a big impact on his team. Kareem Jackson and Rashad Johnson were both recruited during Mike Shula’s time and played together for three years in Tuscaloosa. The duo made it very difficult for teams to throw the ball on Alabama and they came up with big plays in crucial moments for the Tide. Now the two defensive backs are league veterans and are looking to lead not just their defenses, but their whole team to bigger things.
Kareem Jackson, Houston Texans, Cornerback
5’10”, 188 pounds
4 years, $34 million
Jackson is now entering his sixth season in the NFL. He was drafted by the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft with the 20th overall selection. During the past offseason, Jackson signed a new four-year deal with Houston worth $34 million with $20 million guaranteed. The former Tide standout is considered by many as one of the top cornerbacks in the league and the contract seems very deserved and came as no surprise. In his career, Jackson has started 71 games for the Texans and has recorded 10 interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. His career season was in 2012 when he helped Houston make the playoffs with a four-interception season, one returned for a touchdown, along with a career-high 16 pass deflections. Last season, Jackson only played in 13 games due to minor injuries but he still finished with 48 tackles and three interceptions.
Jackson is once again listed as the Texans starting left cornerback and will be lined up opposite of another great corner in Jonathan Joseph. The two players have been together since 2011 and helped the Texans finish tied for third in interceptions in the NFL last season. In two preseason games, Jackson has faced off against the duos of Colin Kaepernick-Anquan Boldin and Peyton Manning-Demaryius Thomas. Jackson has recorded two tackles, one pass deflection and only allowed two completions on his side of the field. The Texans will play at New Orleans on Sunday, August 30.
Rashad Johnson, Arizona Cardinals, Free Safety
5’11”, 205 pounds
1 year, $2.23 million
Rashad Johnson is coming off a career season with Arizona in 2014. The former Alabama walk-on started all 16 games last season and barely came off the field when the Cardinals were on defense. Johnson was one of the major playmakers on Arizona’s great defense, intercepting four passes and recovering two fumbles. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns including an 88-yard return against Atlanta. He also had a career-high 82 tackles with a sack. This season, Johnson will still see plenty of playing time but is in jeopardy of losing his starting job. On Arizona’s preseason depth chart, Johnson is listed as the number two free safety behind former LSU star Tyrann Mathieu. Johnson is ready and thinks that the competition will only make their defense better. His veteran presence will make him one of the leaders on defense both on and off the field. Johnson started last week and saw limited playing time on Saturday against the Chargers without recording any stats.
Caleb Turrentine is a contributor at Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter,@CalebTurrentine.