It’s an offseason of major changes for Houston Texans veteran cornerback Kareem Jackson.
Beyond planning his upcoming wedding and details like getting a custom tuxedo to look sharp for the big day, the Westside product has been cutting weight in an effort to get leaner and faster for the upcoming season.
Jackson was noticeably lighter and quicker during the Texans’ organized team activities. Sporting a transformed physique had a dual purpose for Jackson, who’s hoping for better performance on the field and wanting to look his best at his wedding.
“I’m always a certain weight at a certain time of the year,” Jackson said. “I actually just took it upon myself to stay a little smaller this year around this time. I actually like to train a little bit heavier then when I come in for training camp. I come in at my playing weight. This year, I stayed a little bit smaller.
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“It’s definitely been helping me a lot. Not to mention, I got to fit in my tux for my wedding. My fiancee was kind of giving me crap, but no it’s just something I took upon myself. I decided to stay a little bit lighter this year.”
Planning a wedding and enjoying the growth of his young daughter, the Westside grad is putting a lot of thought into the design of his tuxedo to put a personal touch into his look for the ceremony.
“You only are supposed to get married once,” Jackson said. “It’s definitely a big day, so a lot of thought went into it. I had to go custom. I don’t really want to give it away right now.”
Although Jackson missed four games last season due to an ankle injury, he still managed to finish the season with 58 tackles, two interceptions, six passes defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery as he started a dozen games.
Healthy again and participating in the Texans’ offseason program, Jackson is entering his seventh NFL season and the second year of a four-year, $33.943 million contract that included $20 million guaranteed, and he is due a $6 million fully guaranteed salary this year.
“Definitely, the offseason has been great,” Jackson said. “I’ve done a little traveling. I’m planning a wedding and watching my daughter get bigger. It’s definitely been a great offseason.
“It’s all about being healthy. I’m excited to come in healthy with no nagging injuries and put your best foot forward as a team and get things going in the right direction. I’m definitely looking forward to this year.”
A former first-round draft pick from Alabama, Jackson rushed for 1,436 yards and scored 20 touchdowns with nine catches for 258 yards and two touchdowns catches as a high school senior. He rushed for 3,447 career yards and 46 touchdowns.
At Alabama, Jackson started 40 career games and had 159 tackles, eight for losses, 29 pass deflections and five interceptions. He also had one fumble recovery and one forced fumble and blocked two kicks.
Jackson has continued his track record for success in the NFL since being drafted 20th overall in 2010.
He has recorded 334 career tackles, 12 interceptions, 57 passes defended, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Jackson has been enjoying competing in practice against the the Texans’ offensive newcomers, including quarterback Brock Osweiler, running back Lamar Miller and rookie wide receivers Will Fuller and Braxton Miller.
“Definitely, any time we get on the field, any time going against those guys is always a challenge,” Jackson said. “With bringing Brock in and Lamar and drafting Will, those guys add a lot of speed. It’s definitely a challenge for us. It can only make us better. It gets us ready for the year. We’re definitely going to see some speed, so if we can see it in practice each and every day, it’s only going to make us better as a defense.”
The Texans ranked third in the NFL in total defense last season. They were third against the pass and return veteran starters in Jackson and Johnathan Joseph, who’s recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery along with second-year cornerback Kevin Johnson and starting safeties Andre Hal and Quintin Demps.
“I feel great about the group,” Jackson said. “With having years under your belt with everybody being together, you can play a lot faster. It’s almost like everybody is thinking the same out there because we’ve been together, and we’ve been in different situations.
“I know how Andre is going to react as opposed to Quintin or whoever I’m working with that’s on my side of the field. It only helps because it makes us stronger as a secondary and we have to be able to be on the same page out there. Being together for years that can only help. It helps as far as communication. It’s almost like you are all on one accord out there.”