EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The way rookie cornerbacks Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins have fit so seamlessly into the New York Giants defense, veteran Adoree Jackson has found himself playing a relatively new position.
New York's top coverage cornerback last season, Jackson has been playing more against the slot receiver since training camp opened in late July.
With the season opener against Dallas coming on Sunday night, Jackson may very well be paired against Cowboys top wide out CeeDee Lamb in the nationally televised game.
It's not the way many envisioned the Giants cornerback rotation this spring. Jackson was the best defensive back on the team in 2022 and New York felt it had found a starter to play opposite him when it drafted Banks out of Maryland in the first round.
Two days later, the Giants took Hawkins in the sixth round out of Old Dominion. It seemed like a selection to add depth to the roster.
It wasn't. Hawkins made an impression from the start and he has not stopped.
“I had seen him with the threes and the two’s, but when he did it with the one’s (starters), I don’t want to say it rung my radar, but it was one of those things where you knew he was about his business," Jackson said of Hawkins.
Hawkins will likely play a lot this season. Combined with Banks living up to expectations, it has allowed defensive coordinator Wink Martindale to experiment with Jackson in the slot.
“I feel good,” Jackson said of playing in the slot Monday. “Doing it, being able to go out there, practice and compete.”
Darnay Holmes and second-year cornerback Cor'Dale Flott also have helped him make the adjustment, along with watching a lot of film.
While Lamb has the talent to line up anywhere on the field, he makes a lot of plays out of the slot with quarterback Dak Prescott.
“Just exceptional talent and I think when you have a quarterback and receiver that are on the same page, you can look at numerous duos and they are their favorite target and give them the ball, a lot of things can happen,” Jackson said.
Coach Brian Daboll said the Giants used Jackson in a lot of positions last season in the secondary, both inside and outside.
“We’ll try to use him the best way we can,” Daboll said. “Again, they have a very good player that plays both inside and outside with CeeDee, but they have some other skill players that are going to be challenging — really their entire package. All their skill guys from their backs, to their receivers, to their tight ends. All of our guys are going to have to be ready to go with the assignments that we ask them to do.”
In the first meeting between the teams last season, Lamb made a remarkable one-handed catch in the corner of the end zone against Jackson to break a 13-all tie in the fourth quarter en route to a 23-16 win in the third week of the season.
Jackson, who will be a free agent after this upcoming season, recalls going to the bench after the play and talking with secondary coach Jerome Henderson, wondering what he could have done better.
"It was one of those where the quarterback (Cooper Rush) put it where he needed to put it," Jackson said. He (Lamb) stuck his left hand out there and caught it one-handed. So, it was one of those things where you don’t really harp too much on it."
NOTES: Quarterback Daniel Jones restructured his new four-year, $160 million contract to give the Giants a little more cap space. He will convert $8.42 million of his base salary into a signing bonus and gave New York an extra $6.3 million in cap space. ... Guard Jack Anderson was waived with an injury settlement.
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Tom Canavan, The Associated Press