WESTFIELD, Ind. - At the conclusion of Thursday's practice, running back Deon Jackson caught up with the hosts of Training Camp Daily to discuss the quickly approaching 2023 NFL season.
After seeing minimal playing time as an undrafted free agent in 2021, Jackson turned heads the following season with the help of a breakout performance against the Denver Broncos.
During the Week 5 Thursday night contest, Jackson was pulled into action after an early injury to then-teammate Nyheim Hines.
"That game actually was a big confidence boost for me," Jackson said. "When Nyheim went down with a concussion early in the game, my coach turned to me and said, '35 it's on you'."
Despite the short notice, Jackson went on to have one of the best games of his young career.
He rushed for a career-high 62 yards and caught four passes for 29 yards.
"I still kind of think about that game honestly because it was a crazy moment," Jackson said. "It didn't happen how I thought it was gonna happen because I kind of got thrown in out of nowhere. It helped my performances throughout the rest of the season because then it was like, 'Okay, I can play in this league. I can make plays out there.' I think it gave some confidence to the organization and my coaching staff (and whatnot) that they can trust me to make plays and it'll be okay."
He followed that game up with an even better showing against the Jaguars where he had 121 scrimmage yards, scored a rushing touchdown and caught 10 passes.
Listen to Jeffrey Gorman and Casey Vallier's full interview with Deon Jackson as well as takeaways from the Colts' initial depth chart on the Training Camp Daily Podcast, which you can listen to on:
Jackson went on to finish the season with 68 carries, 236 rushing yards, 209 receiving yards and scored two touchdowns.
Now moving onto a new year, Jackson knows that there are no guarantees that he will get the same amount of opportunities or even make the final 53-man roster.
So, to keep himself grounded, Jackson said he keeps the mentality that he had back when he was an undrafted rookie just hoping to earn his place.
"Coming in my rookie year – coming in undrafted, the one thing that was on my mind was that, 'I gotta earn my keep, I gotta to earn my stay," Jackson said. "Every year, I'm coming in and it's the same mentality. They're bringing in new people every year and that's just the reality of the business. Once you understand that and once you grasp all of that, it becomes easier and you just focus on your grind and making the team every year. Honestly, that's where my head's been at."