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Dolphins camp: So how does third-string QB look? Observations, plus stock up, stock down

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Dolphins Camp: So How Does Third-String Qb Look? Observations, Plus Stock Up, Stock Down
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Get ready for the Skylar Thompson showcase this weekend.

With Tua Tagovailoa’s playing status uncertain for Saturday’s preseason opener against Tampa Bay, it’s possible that the former Kansas State standout the Miami Dolphins selected in the seventh round this year could play most, if not all of the Saturday’s exhibition.

With Teddy Bridgewater sitting out all of Thursday’s 11-on-11 periods, Tagovailoa and Thompson were the only Dolphins quarterbacks who participated in team drills during the joint practices against the Buccaneers.

And Thompson used those extra reps to shine with his unit.

In his first pass of the early 11-on-11 period, Thompson found Tanner Conner wide open on the left side of the field, and the undrafted rookie from Idaho State scurried to the end zone for a touchdown.

A few snaps later, Thompson, who threw for 7,124 yards and scored 42 touchdown in his five seasons for the Wildcats, drove his unit into scoring territory and threw a touchdown pass to receiver Trent Sherfield.

On his next drive he found tailback Chase Edmonds open in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown.

Then, during the red-zone segment of the joint practice’s 11-on-11 period, Thompson connected with fellow rookie Erik Ezukanma for a touchdown in the middle of the field.

That’s four touchdowns on from Thursday’s practice. Not all of his drives or reps were clean, but the 25-year-old quarterback is clearly showing that he’s gained a good grasp of the offense since camp opened, has developed chemistry with his receivers, and the game speed has begun to slow down.

He’ll likely have at least a half, if not three quarters of Saturday’s game to show the world his growth.

Observations

Terron Armstead had his most active practice of training camp, participating in every 11-on-11 period for the first time since camp opened. The veteran left tackle the Dolphins signed to a lucrative contract free agency was also spotted pancaking Buccaneers defensive linemen Logan Hall….

Tagovailoa has an effective day executing Miami’s offense, making the most out of a sack-plagued drive during Thursday’s practice. Most of his throws were decisive and on the money. He was plagued by a few bad snaps from Connor Williams…

Cornerback Keion Crossen had one of his better practices of camp, delivering three pass breakups against the Buccaneers….

Safety Jevon Holland pulled down an interception off Blaine Gabbert during the 7-on-7 period….

Linebacker Duke Riley had a skirmish with Buccaneers offensive guard Luke Goedeke that got both teams involved….

Buccaneers tailback Giovanni Bernard had a couple of big runs against the Dolphins defense, which had some gap-integrity issues.

Tight end Mike Gesicki had one touchdown pass called back, then dropped another in end zone. But the flex tight end got a lot of work as a blocker during Thursday’s practice and didn’t embarrass himself….

Stock up

Austin Jackson had two solid practice sessions against one of the most physical defensive lines in the NFL. That’s a huge step forward for the Dolphins’ 2020 first-round pick, considering this time last year he was being embarrassed by the Chicago Bears defensive line in Miami’s joint practices. Jackson is leaner, and it seems his footwork and hand placement have been cleaned up.

Stock down

At this point it is not safe to predict Solomon Kindley, a 2020 fourth-round pick who started 12 games at right guard in 2020, makes it onto the 53-man roster unless he has an impressive preseason showing. Kindley, who is clearly Miami’s heaviest offensive lineman, shines when it comes to pass protection. But he seemingly lacks the athleticism to create movement in the run game.

Injury update

Backup center Michael Deiter didn’t participate in 1-on-1 drills, but did get involved during some 11-on-11 reps. It was his third day of practice since training camp began, because of a foot injury he suffered on the first day….

Cornerback Kader Kohou, who seemingly suffered an ankle injury on Wednesday, participated in practice but was seemingly limited….

Safety Sheldrick Redwine and fullback John Lovett continued to sit out practice.

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Ian just shy of a Category 5 hurricane as it nears Florida

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Ian Just Shy Of A Category 5 Hurricane As It Nears Florida
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By CURT ANDERSON

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., (AP) — Hurricane Ian rapidly intensified off Florida’s southwest coast Wednesday morning, gaining top winds of 155 mph (250 kph), just shy of the most dangerous Category 5 status. Damaging winds and rain lashed the state’s heavily populated Gulf Coast, with the Naples to Sarasota region at “highest risk” of a devastating storm surge.

U.S. Air Force hurricane hunters confirmed Ian gained strength over warm Gulf of Mexico water after battering Cuba, bringing down the country’s electricity grid and leaving the entire island without power. Ian was centered about 65 miles (105 kilometers) west-southwest of Naples at 7 a.m., swirling toward the coast at 10 mph (17 kph).

“This is going to be a nasty nasty day, two days,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said early Wednesday. “This is going to be a rough stretch.”

The massive storm appeared on track to slam into the Florida’s southwestern Gulf coast somewhere north of Fort Myers and some 125 miles (201 kilometers) south of Tampa, sparing the bay area from a rare direct hit from a hurricane. The Fort Myers area is popular with retirees and tourists drawn to pristine white sandy beaches and long barrier islands, which forecasters said could be completely inundated.

The hurricane center warned of catastrophic storm surges raising the water level as much as 12 feet (3.6 meters) to 16 feet (4.9 meters) above ground level for coastal areas straddling Punta Gorda and Fort Myers, which are between Naples and Sarasota.

More than 2.5 million people were under mandatory evacuation orders, but by law no one could be forced to flee. Florida residents rushed ahead of the impact to board up their homes, stash precious belongings on upper floors and join long lines of cars away from the shore.

“You can’t do anything about natural disasters,” said Vinod Nair, who drove inland from the Tampa area Tuesday with his wife, son, dog and two kittens seeking a hotel in the tourist district of Orlando. “We live in a high risk zone, so we thought it best to evacuate.”

Winds exceeding tropical-storm strength of 39 mph (63 kph) reached Florida by 3 a.m. and the first hurricane-force winds were recorded by 6 a.m., well in advance of the eyewall moving inland, the Miami-based center said. Rainfall near the area of landfall could top 18 inches (46 centimeters).

Overnight, Hurricane Ian went through a natural cycle when it lost its old eye and formed a new eye. The timing of this is bad for the Florida coast because it means the storm got stronger and larger hours before it was set to make landfall, making it even more of a menace. Ian went from 120 mph (193 kph) to 155 mph (250 kph) in just three hours, the second round of rapid intensification in the storm’s life cycle.

“With the higher intensity you’re going to see more extensive wind damage. The larger wind field means that more people will experience those storm-force winds,” University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said. And “it will really increase the amount of storm surge.”

Ian’s forward movement slowed over the Gulf, enabling the hurricane to grow wider and stronger, and its predicted path shifted slightly southward. That would likely spare Tampa and St. Petersburg their first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921.

Instead, the most damaging winds could hit a rapidly developing coastline where the population has jumped sevenfold since 1970, according to the U.S. Census, which shows Lee County has seen the eighth largest population growth among more than 180 Atlantic and Gulf coast counties in the past 50 years.

There were 250,000 people in the Fort Myers/Lee County mandatory evacuation zones, and authorities worried ahead of the storm that only 10% or so would leave.

Gil Gonzalez wasn’t taking any chances. He boarded the windows of his Tampa home with plywood and laid down sandbags to guard against any flooding. He and his wife packed their car with bottled water, flashlights, battery packs for their cellphones and a camp stove before evacuating.

“All the prized possessions, we’ve put them upstairs in a friend’s house,” Gonzalez said.

Airports in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Key West closed, as did Disney World theme parks and Sea World in Orlando ahead of the storm.

A couple from England on vacation in Tampa found themselves faced with riding out the storm at a shelter. Glyn and Christine Williams of London were told to leave their hotel near the beach when evacuations were ordered. Because the airport shut down, they could get no flight home.

“Unfortunately, all the hotels are full or closed, so it looks as though we’re going to be in one of the shelters,” Christine Williams said.

Her husband insisted all would be fine. “You know, you got to go with the flow,” Glyn Williams said. “So we’re quite happy doing what we’re doing.”

The precise location of landfall was still uncertain, but with Ian’s tropical storm-force winds extending 175 miles (280 kilometers) from its center, flash floods were possible across the whole state. Parts of Florida’s east coast faced a storm surge threat as well, and isolated tornadoes were spinning off the storm well ahead of landfall. One tornado damaged small planes and a hangar at the North Perry Airport, west of Hollywood along the Atlantic coast.

Florida Power and Light warned those in Ian’s path to brace for days without electricity. As a precaution, hundreds of residents were being evacuated from several nursing homes in the Tampa area, where hospitals also were moving some patients.

Parts of Georgia and South Carolina also could see flooding rains and some coastal surge into Saturday. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp preemptively declared an emergency, ordering 500 National Guard troops onto standby to respond as needed.

Before turning toward Florida, Ian struck Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province with sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph) and causing destruction in the island nation’s world-famous tobacco belt. No deaths were reported.

Local government station TelePinar reported heavy damage at the main hospital in Pinar del Rio city, tweeting photos of collapsed ceilings, widely flung debris and toppled trees. Some people left the stricken area on foot, carrying their children, while buses tried to evacuated others through waterlogged streets. Others opted to stay at their damaged houses.

“It was horrible,” said Yusimi Palacios, a resident of Pinar del Rio inside her damaged house. “But here we are alive, and I only ask the Cuban revolution to help me with the roof and the mattress.”

___

Associated Press contributors include Christina Mesquita in Havana, Cuba; Cody Jackson in Tampa, Florida; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Anthony Izaguirre in Tallahassee, Florida; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; Seth Borenstein in Washington and Bobby Caina Calvan in New York.

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Other voices: Reforming the Electoral Count Act should not be controversial

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Other Voices: Reforming The Electoral Count Act Should Not Be Controversial
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The U.S. House of Representatives this month passed a bill to reform how Congress certifies electors after a presidential election. That bill (or a similar but slightly weaker Senate one) needs to pass the Senate now.

After the November general election, Congress’ focus will turn to the 2024 presidential race. Good luck getting any meaningful election reforms passed then.

Ostensibly, the Presidential Election Reform Act is a response to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and its aftermath. When Congress reconvened, 147 Republican representatives and senators voted against certifying that President Joe Biden had won. There also were desperate machinations to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence to throw out the election result.

Jan. 6 is only the impetus of the hour, though. The need for reform has been clear for decades. It just took a near-complete collapse of the process and democratic-norms to prompt action.

The problem goes back to the 1887 law known as the Electoral Count Act. Historians, lawyers and Constitutional law scholars for decades have argued that it was so poorly written, vague and ambiguous that it was only a matter of time until some lawmakers tried to abuse it.

Indeed, Republicans in 2021 weren’t the first to object to certifying presidential electors, though they took it further than anyone before. Some Democrats objected to certifying electors in 2001, 2005 and 2017 when Republicans won the White House. The difference was that those were just protests after a candidate had already conceded, not an outright attempt to overturn a fair election.

The House bill would clean up the Electoral Count Act. It would raise the bar for members of Congress to object to certification and would make it explicit that the vice president’s role is strictly ceremonial. It also would establish clear rules for who in the states certifies electors.

None of this should be controversial. Establishing well-defined ground rules for elections and the transfer of presidential power benefits everyone. Yet only nine Republicans in the House joined Democrats in passing the bill. Most of the nine also had voted to impeach Trump after Jan. 6 and won’t return to Congress after this year’s election.

The Senate should act without delay, though whether it can overcome a Republican filibuster is uncertain. If it cannot, senators should vote on a similar Senate bill that does have bipartisan support. That one doesn’t go quite as far, but something is better than nothing. The alternative is heading into 2024 with the same broken law that led to a riot and members of Congress trading their honor for fealty to a losing presidential candidate.

— The Seattle Times

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Insurance regulator asks general insurers to offer long-term policies

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Insurance Regulator Asks General Insurers To Offer Long-Term Policies
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The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has asked general insurers to offer long-term policies, particularly with three different segments forming the majority of the business. These three segments are automobile insurance, health insurance and property insurance.

A working committee of 21 members was formed for this purpose. This working committee is made up of representatives from the general insurance industry, the regulatory side and the banking side.

The committee basically expected to give its recommendations and suggestions to the insurance regulator in terms of structure, operation of long-term products in these three segments as well as pricing and accounting mechanism.

This decision will help policyholders stay with one insurance company over the long term. The possible industry indication is that there could be 10-year auto insurance policies, health insurance policies, and property insurance policies.

This committee is supposed to give recommendations to the regulator. Once this is collected by the regulatory body, final regulations will be developed regarding the appearance of these products.

To learn more, watch the attached video

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James Stavridis: Putin’s new cannon fodder won’t win the Ukraine war

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A Man Hugs His Mother Outside A Military Recruitment Center Iin Russia As Officers And Others Look On.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin tripled down on the war in Ukraine in a short but defiant televised speech last week. Politically, he announced that a series of referendums on joining Russia would be held in the conquered territories of eastern Ukraine. Militarily, he repeated previous not-so-veiled threats to use nuclear weapons, and announced a mobilization of 300,000 reservists to be thrown into his flailing “special military operation.”

All these choices smack of desperation and an attempt to thread a narrow needle: Putin wants Russians to believe that everything is going fine and that ultimately he will conquer Ukraine; but he also knows that with as many as 80,000 troops killed in action or wounded in just over six months of war, he simply must get more soldiers into the fight.

The referendums are largely meaningless, with preordained outcomes that no informed observer or the United Nations will take seriously. The nuclear threat is a repetition of Putin’s bluster from months ago. He is highly unlikely to use even a low-yield tactical nuclear weapon given the obvious threat of starting World War III and also the immense damage it would do in his efforts to keep Brazil, India, Nigeria, South Africa and other large nonaligned countries in neutrality.

But the mobilization of 300,000 troops is worth examining as a matter of military analysis. What does the decision to call in reserves say about the state of the war, and how should the West react?

When I was supreme allied commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, I participated in exercises with many reserve troops, including those of three non-NATO countries with exceptional systems: Finland, Israel and Switzerland. (Finland is currently in the midst of the NATO accession process.)

Finland and Israel are small nations with a history of being invaded by their immediate neighbors — Russia in the case of the former, and various Arab nations for the latter. Both have universal conscription (males for Finland, both sexes for Israel) that flows into a highly ordered, motivated and exceptionally well-equipped reserve force. I came away with deep respect for their capabilities.

Another country with incredibly ready reserves is neutral Switzerland. The military tradition there is deeply respected and woven into Swiss culture, from highly trained fighter pilots to troops mounted on racing bicycles. Every time I flew over Switzerland in NATO aircraft, I would look with admiration to the left and right at reserve fighter pilots in high-end jets escorting us over their country.

The Russian reserve system, by contrast, is not highly regarded by outside military analysts. It is based on the vestiges of universal conscription that were in place for decades, and the stories of raw draftees being beaten, abused and starved are legendary. (See, for example, “One Soldier’s War” by Arkady Babchenko for a snapshot inside the brutal system.) It is also shockingly corrupt. When soldiers get out of uniform — after brutal wars in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Syria — they want to get as far as they can from the army.

Once discharged, former soldiers are loosely tracked by the Russian state. In contrast to modern Western militaries, there appears to be very little systematic training, no organized equipment maintenance or operations, and no in-depth ties with standing units and missions. While there are a few reserve units in the model of U.S. system, they are small and inadequately supported by the larger armed forces.

Ominously for Russia, the mobilization order places the onus for recruitment on various governors of Russian regions, under a system of quotas levied by the defense ministry. This demonstrates that there is no broad, structured reserve to which the Russian military can turn. Additionally, the decree allows for further call-ups down the road, and offers bonuses to the reserves who come forward, much like the incentives offered to convicts in Russian prisons to go and fight.

It will be a Herculean administrative task to provide uniforms and training for 300,000 troops, find qualified leaders at the officer level, provide them with effective equipment, and get them integrated with communications and logistics. It will be months before a significant number can be brought to bear in combat. Then, almost certainly, they will become yet another wave of cannon fodder launched at Ukrainian positions.

The Ukrainians, knowing they may eventually be facing a much larger force, will prepare their own responses. They will be seeking (and probably receiving from the West) systems that can negate large numbers of foot soldiers: close-air attack planes, tanks and artillery, mounted machine guns, precision mortars and long-range surface-to-surface missiles.

The Russians being pulled off the street in this mobilization will face a highly motivated, extremely well-armed and very innovative foe in the Ukrainians. The War of Putin’s Ego continues, and many of these 300,000 poor souls are likely to pay the ultimate cost for his folly.

A Russian recruit hugs his mother at a military recruitment center in Volgograd, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to beef up his forces in Ukraine. (AP Photo, File)

 

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Ukraine vows to challenge Russia’s ‘void and worthless’ referendums

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Ukraine Vows To Challenge Russia'S 'Void And Worthless' Referendums
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Ukraine will never recognize ‘void and worthless’ Russian referendums in its occupied territories and will continue to fight to free them, Kyiv promised today.

Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson ‘remain Ukraine’s sovereign territories’, Kyiv’s foreign ministry says, despite sham votes staged by Russia at gunpoint that paved the way for Putin to attach them.

“Ukraine has every right to restore its territorial integrity through military and diplomatic means, and will continue to liberate” its territory, the ministry added – in defiance of Kremlin threats to use nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers have reportedly earmarked an additional $12 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine, underscoring their commitment to supporting Kyiv for a long time despite Russia’s slashing.

Ukraine Has Vowed Never To Recognize Russian Referendums

Ukraine has vowed never to recognize ‘void and worthless’ Russian referendums or stop liberating its occupied territories (pictured, Russian troops outside a polling station)

President Zelensky Has Said There Will Be No Peace Talks With Russia As Putin Tries To Carve Up His Country Under The Guise Of Democracy

President Zelensky Has Said There Will Be No Peace Talks With Russia As Putin Tries To Carve Up His Country Under The Guise Of Democracy

President Zelensky has said there will be no peace talks with Russia as Putin tries to carve up his country under the guise of democracy

Russian officials in occupied parts of Ukraine announced yesterday that 90% of people had voted to be part of Russia – a result which was little in doubt as armed soldiers went door to door in the ballot boxes.

Kremlin puppets in occupied areas said they planned to seek permission to join Russia today, which Putin is expected to accept in a speech to parliament on Friday.

While devoid of legitimacy, the process will allow Putin to lie to his own people that Ukraine is now attacking Russia rather than the other way around – kicking off a dangerous new phase in the conflict.

President Zelensky, speaking at the UN last night, said there could be no peace talks with Putin while he worked to carve up Ukrainian territory.

“Russia’s recognition of these sham referendums as normal … will mean that there is nothing to discuss with this Russian president,” he said.

Separately, his foreign ministry criticized “armed aggression and powerless attempts to cling to the territories temporarily occupied” by the Kremlin.

“Forcing residents of these territories to fill out papers with the barrel of a gun is another Russian crime during its aggression against Ukraine,” he said.

“Such actions seriously violate the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, as well as the norms of international law and Russia’s international obligations. ‘

Russia Claimed Yesterday That More Than 90% Of The Inhabitants Of The Territories It Occupies Had Voted To Join The

Russia Claimed Yesterday That More Than 90% Of The Inhabitants Of The Territories It Occupies Had Voted To Join The

Russia claimed yesterday that more than 90% of the people in the territories it occupies had voted to join the ‘motherland’, although there is no doubt the poll was rigged

Moscow yesterday released the results of referendums its troops have held in occupied parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia over the past week – saying 90% of people voted to be part of Russia.

Videos of armed Kremlin soldiers going door to door with ballot boxes left little doubt about the validity of the votes, but it nevertheless marks an important moment as it gives Putin a pretext to claim them as part of Russia .

The despot is expected to do so on Friday when he addresses both houses of parliament, allowing him to lie to his own people that Ukraine is now attacking Russia – rather than the other way around.

This then increases the suite of options he must answer, including the use of nuclear weapons.

Putin threatened to deploy his nuclear arsenal last week, and his allies – including ex-president Dmitry Medvedev – have repeated it many times since.

Russia staged the referendums following a Ukrainian counterattack east of Kharkiv that put Putin firmly on the back foot and victory within reach.

The Kremlin now appears to be trying to regain momentum with a heady mix of threats and escalation.

Putin Is Expected To Annex Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia And Kherson Regions To Russia In A Speech To Parliament On Friday (File Image)

Putin Is Expected To Annex Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia And Kherson Regions To Russia In A Speech To Parliament On Friday (File Image)

Putin is expected to annex Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions to Russia in a speech to parliament on Friday (file image)

Annexing The Territory Would Allow Putin To Claim That Ukraine Is Attacking Russia Rather Than The Other Way Around, Paving The Way For The War To Escalate (File Image, A Russian Soldier In Ukraine)

Annexing The Territory Would Allow Putin To Claim That Ukraine Is Attacking Russia Rather Than The Other Way Around, Paving The Way For The War To Escalate (File Image, A Russian Soldier In Ukraine)

Annexing the territory would allow Putin to claim that Ukraine is attacking Russia rather than the other way around, paving the way for the war to escalate (File image, a Russian soldier in Ukraine)

Besides referenda and nuclear saber-cutting, Putin also ordered the partial mobilization of the Russian population with the aim of sending 300,000 new troops to the front lines.

This sparked huge domestic unrest with protests breaking out in several cities and seeing thousands of people fleeing the country to avoid the project.

Meanwhile, videos revealed conscripts were given little training or equipment before being thrown to the front lines, with experts saying they are unlikely to turn the tide of the war.

But, rather than outright winning, Putin appears to be trying to increase the cost of his defeat so that the West stops trying.

In this context, two explosions yesterday seriously damaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines which pass under the Baltic Sea – Moscow being the main suspect.

However, Western leaders have so far refrained from blaming Russia directly as the attack caught them off guard and evidence is still being collected.

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After 2 years of loss on and off the field, Eddie Jackson is playing with a rejuvenated spirit for the Chicago Bears — and the same bold confidence

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After 2 Years Of Loss On And Off The Field, Eddie Jackson Is Playing With A Rejuvenated Spirit For The Chicago Bears — And The Same Bold Confidence
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In the backyard of a newly built townhouse in East Garfield Park on Sept. 13, a group of junior high and high school kids from Marillac St. Vincent Family Services peppered Eddie Jackson with questions.

The Chicago Bears safety handled it with the swagger of someone returning a pick-six.

Jackson got into the real topics at the event promoting the construction of the Harrison Row Townhomes, an affordable single-family housing complex sold through the Chicago Housing Trust. Why financial literacy is important for the kids. Why dreams beyond becoming football players or entertainers should be celebrated. Why he’s making investments for his future beyond the NFL.

But there was a lot of bold football talk too.

Can you train me?

“Yeah, I got you. I got you,” Jackson answered. “I’ve got to check what your schedule looks like though.”

What’s your Madden score?

“What you think it should be, 99? That’s what I’m saying. Yeah, 99.”

Do you think you’d be better if you stayed at wide receiver?

“I won’t say I’d be better, but I’d be one of the top dogs for sure.”

Do you think the Bears are going to win the championship this year?

“Yeah, of course, but I think that every year.”

Who’s the most competitive person you’ve played?

“I’d say Aaron Rodgers. We see him Sunday. We’ve got something for him though.”

Just two days earlier, Jackson broke a 32-month stretch without an interception when he dived in front of a pass from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance. The feeling, Jackson said, was not so much relief or vindication but more one of being “rejuvenated.”

It’s an interesting choice of words because in the Bears youth movement under general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus, Jackson, in his sixth season, is suddenly one of the more senior members of the team. The defensive veterans who led during Jackson’s exuberant first few seasons — including Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack and Danny Trevathan — are all gone, and he feels more of a responsibility to guide.

At the same time, Jackson feels new energy under the changed coaching staff and roster. And the “fresh start” coaches touted for him in the spring has led to two interceptions in the first three games of 2022. The team vibe is one Jackson hopes pushes him back to the playmaking prowess that resulted in 10 interceptions and five touchdowns in his first three seasons.

Not that he ever thought it was gone, even after a couple of years of loss on and off the field.

“I always knew what type of player I am,” Jackson told the Tribune. “My coaches, players, teammates, everyone knows. It never was a thing where my head was held low.”

‘It was just so much’

The Houston Texans were at the Bears 7-yard line and threatening to take the lead in the first quarter Sunday at Soldier Field when cornerback Kindle Vildor saw Brandin Cooks run a route the Bears prepared for in the red zone all week. Vildor jumped in front of quarterback Davis Mills’ pass, popping the football into the air.

Jackson was right there to grab the ball in the end zone. He also forced a fumble one drive earlier, though the Texans recovered it. He briefly left the game to go into the medical tent but returned to play a short time later.

“It’s just flying around,” Jackson said after the Week 3 win. “That’s what happens when you hustle and play with intensity. Good things start to happen.”

For a while, not a lot was going right for Jackson. It was more than just going two seasons without an interception or missing tackles or having officials call back touchdowns because of penalties, though those things compounded other struggles.

Over the last two years, Jackson’s girlfriend, Alison Gore, suffered a miscarriage of their first child and then lost another baby at 6 months. In between those losses, Jackson’s longtime best friend, Romario Olivier — a down-to-earth, lovable guy with whom Jackson shared secrets and advice since they were kids — died from what Jackson said was an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Jackson’s first instinct was to bury the emotions and smile. He wanted to be strong for Gore. He didn’t want people to think he was looking for pity — a “poor me,” he called it. He thought people expected him to act a certain way, that he had a responsibility to keep everyone else’s spirits up.

“Just coming in here (at Halas Hall), you’ve got guys that are looking to you,” Jackson said. “A lot of stuff was going off of my emotions, so if I come here down, everybody was like, ‘Yo, Eddie!’ So I just tried to keep a smile on my face, just come in here like, ‘All right, I’m going to hit the building. Let me just put it behind me.’

“It was just so much. And I felt like, ‘Man, ain’t nothing going good for me.’ … It was like, ‘Why me?’ You’re questioning God and stuff like that. But now I’m at peace with it. I put everything in God’s hands and I go from there.”

Jackson said he and Gore, whom he met on his first day on campus at Alabama, relied on close friends, family and God. He didn’t share their losses with many people, but it poured out of him in an interview with Bears play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak that was released in Week 2, a revelation that touched Bears fans who have followed Jackson’s ups and downs.

“People look at us like superheroes, and I get it,” Jackson said last week. “I understand the type of profession we’re in. We’re human at the end of the day. We go through stuff. We leave here, take these shoulder pads off, we walk into the house and have the same problems with family and friends (that everyone does).”

Jackson has used the phrase “at peace” for how he feels off the field and on it too.

He was open at training camp about his play the last couple of years as the Bears defense stumbled after a stellar 2018 season in former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s final year. Jackson, who signed a four-year, $58.4 million extension in January 2020, said he was complacent, that he didn’t live up to the standards he set for himself.

But Jackson seems to have a genuine belief in a turnaround, faith that the energy this coaching staff brings and the way it pushes players could change things at Halas Hall.

“The mindset we have, it’s like they’re holding all of us to the same level of accountability,” Jackson said. “They’re not letting anyone slack. We’re not taking anything that’s less than what we know we have. We set the ceiling and the standards very, very high, and we feel like we’re actually going to achieve those. And it doesn’t seem like it’s not possible.”

The spark from Jackson, who was an honorary team captain for the Texans game, certainly has been notable. And part of that comes from knowing he has a young group of players, including second-round pick Jaquan Brisker, watching how he handles himself.

‘Knowledge and experience to share’

JaMarquis Allen, a senior at Providence-St. Mel, walked out of the townhome’s yard clutching a signed football, gloves and photo and declaring his interactions with Jackson “very motivational.” Jackson spent about 30 minutes signing autographs and taking selfies with the Marillac St. Vincent kids, giving extra gear to Allen’s team, which was the first to complete a $10,000 budget at a financial literacy class a night earlier.

Allen was one of about two dozen kids who listened to Jackson talk about investing in Kinexx Modular Construction, a company with several athlete investors that reduces construction costs by assembling modular homes in its factory before putting them together on site. Kinexx was a partner of Structured Development, along with Fain’s Development, for the Harrison Row project, which will have 40 affordable homes.

Jackson’s involvement was twofold. One incentive was that Jackson, who will turn 29 in December and was accompanied to the event by his parents and Gore, wants to make investments that will help his future after football.

“A lot of people don’t know, but the average span is two, three years in the NFL and then you go bankrupt two, three years after the NFL,” Jackson told the kids during the Q&A session. “So this is a huge thing for me to create some generational wealth and create some financial stability for myself as well as my family.”

He also wanted to give back in Chicago, help with the affordable housing crisis and educate the kids.

Jackson said he didn’t really gain financial literacy until he bought his first house and thought it was important kids have schooling in it early. He started a scholarship fund with that purpose in honor of Olivier, whom Jackson considered a model of entrepreneurship after his friend started his own tow truck company.

“Everyone feels like you have to be an athlete or entertainer or something to make it out, when there’s really a million different ways,” Jackson told the kids. “And that kind of starts right now, having this information you guys are learning, being able to come out here and see what’s going on in the community and how you can impact it when you get older to help change things.”

It’s a message Jackson takes to heart too.

“I always pray not just to thank God for my blessings but to ask him for me to become one to others,” he said.

Around Halas Hall, that philosophy could help him as he learns how to be the veteran. Bears safeties coach Andre Curtis said Jackson has a quiet leadership to him — he maybe doesn’t give rousing speeches, but people gravitate to him. That includes Brisker.

When Jackson first told Brisker to let him know if he needed anything after the Bears drafted the Penn State safety, Brisker asked to watch film with him that day. That’s how Brisker found himself at the gate to Jackson’s house in awe.

“When I first walked in there, I’m like, ‘Wow,’” Brisker said during training camp. “I had to tell him, coming from where I’m coming from, we don’t see things like that. So that was very big for me. So, like, I know I’m in the NFL.”

Brisker and Jackson watched film together on their tablets, the start of weeks of film sessions and meals together. Brisker said all of the Bears safeties help him, but he was at Jackson’s house so much that “I was like, I’ve got to chill a little bit, give him some room.”

“They’ve got a genuine friendship,” Curtis said. “They spend a lot of time together studying tape, even on days off. Eddie is a private person, but he has a huge heart for helping other people and he has knowledge and experience to share with a young player, and I think that’s pretty cool.”

Jackson at one point called Brisker “Little Brother” and said that while Brisker is more settled into his own place now, he still is welcome to come over, including for a haircut in Jackson’s in-house barbershop last week. Jackson believes the infusion of youth in the secondary, which also includes draft picks Kyler Gordon and Elijah Hicks, is helping him, too, in both his preparation and his play.

“Just being one of the oldest guys in the room, all of the young guys coming in, they’re looking at you, what you do, how you work, how you are off the field, how you are during meetings,” Jackson said. “You’ve got to carry yourself a certain way.

“Just being able to play with them, just the energy they bring as young players, it’s fun. They’re electric. Everyone saw what they were capable of doing (against the 49ers), just the plays we are capable of making as a unit.

“We want to change the whole identity of this thing. Me and Quan always talk, we want to do the best it’s ever been done as a safety duo. So that’s the mindset.”

It’s the type of bold statement Jackson occasionally makes, but Curtis said Jackson and Brisker have been backing it up with the right approach.

“They’re not lacking in confidence, which is a good thing,” Curtis said. “Both of them have a humility about themselves and they’re approachable and you can coach them and you can coach them hard, and they’ll listen because they want to be really good. And that’s what they’re trying to work to do.”

So far this season, the work — and the energy and peace of mind — is paying off as Jackson is making the type of impact plays that highlighted his early Bears career.

“There may be some other people that say, ‘Well, it’s been this many ballgames, this many years since he’s had an interception,’ but Eddie does not lack for confidence,” defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. “So I don’t know if you would say that boosted his confidence.

“When you work like Eddie works and you’re smart like Eddie, the football intelligence, the confidence doesn’t wane.”

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