After serving a two-game suspension for a hard hit on Packers tight end Luke Musgrave, safety Kareem Jackson has been activated from the reserve/suspended list and is expected to play on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings in week 11. Jackson- who has been fined for a number of roughness violations this year- was initially supposed to serve a four-game suspension, but after an appeal, his punishment was reduced to two games. Jackson's return could not come at a better time for the Broncos as injuries have stretched the safety room thin.
In Denver's week 10 victory over the Bills, safety P.J. Locke suffered an ankle injury and was seen wearing a walking boot after the game. In Jackson's absence, Locke not only filled the role, but became a stud on a defense that has been the best unit in the league over the last month. With Locke's gameday status up in the air, Kareem Jackson is anticipated to return to his starting safety role.
The 35-year-old safety is not the player he was a few years ago, but Jackson is still a knowledgeable veteran that- for the most part- can be trusted to be in the right spots. His hard-hitting prowess has been his greatest strength over the last several seasons, but he will have to be careful with how he delivers his blows. Having already been penalized, fined and suspended for a number of dangerous hits, Jackson will be under a microscope when he takes the field again. The Broncos can not afford to lose another safety, so he must play smart.
Still, even with Jackson likely needing to cut back on being a heat seeking missile, his veteran presence alone should be a welcome sight. Some of Broncos Country have not been too fond of Jackson as of late. Understandably so, as Jackson has committed numerous unnecessary roughness penalties that have cost the Broncos dearly, but if he is able to avoid being penalized for vicious hits, his contributions on the field can be invaluable.
As a 14-year NFL veteran, Jackson understands his assignments and where he needs to be. He has also built fantastic synergy with Justin Simmons over the years. Since Jackson joined the team in 2019, he and Simmons have formed one of the league's best safety tandems, and have led the way for numerous top 10 defenses. Due to injuries and suspensions, Jackson and Simmons have not gotten to share the field much in 2023, but fans should be delighted to see them back as a duo with Jackson's return.
Beyond Jackson, the Broncos do not have much left in its safety room. Second-year player Delarrin Turner-Yell has had a decent share of playing time this year, and served as the primary backup when P.J. Locke left last Monday's game with an injury, but with Turner-Yell on the field, the Broncos defense has been far more vulnerable to back-breaking blown coverages. Rookie JL Skinner has gotten a few reps this season, but giving a rookie sixth-round pick extended snaps is less than ideal.
Right now, Kareem Jackson is Denver's best bet at keeping the defense's forward momentum going. While Jackson has fallen out of favor with some of Broncos Country, I still view his presence on the roster as a positive one. Jackson has been a part of some fantastic defenses in Denver before, and I trust he can hold down the fort until P.J. Locke is able to return. Even when Locke is back up and running, I believe Jackson will still be impactful. He just needs to watch where he hits.