Asa Jackson's Punt Return Helps Roster Cause

Asa Jackson broke a punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Baltimore's 27-23 win over Atlanta. - Rob Carr

Suspended for eight games, Asa Jackson offered another reason why he should remain on the roster when he returns.

Asa Jackson knows it's an uphill climb to make this roster once he's eligible to play again.

Suspended for eight games for violating the NFL's performance enhancing drugs policy, Jackson will spend the first half of the season at home and away from the team's facility. Coach John Harbaugh previously said his standing with the team won't be affected in the immediate future since he won't count against the 53-man roster total when the regular season starts.

However, Jackson will have to prove he deserves a spot reserved for him when Week 9 comes. That's not an easy thing to do since his suspension isn't short.

After notching an interception last week against Tampa Bay, Jackson gave Baltimore the go-ahead points in its 27-23 win over Atlanta Thursday night. Jackson returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown. Penalty flags were thrown, which would normally indicate a hold or clip on the return team. However, the penalty called was an illegal block above the waist on Atlanta. Jackson's touchdown stood.

"It looked like [the punter] outkicked the coverage a little bit," Jackson told reporters after the game. "The punt was just set up to the wide side of the field, and all the guys blocking, they did the work. I did the easy part; I just had to catch the ball and get around the corner. They were the ones that set the blocks up and made the wall for me, and at that point I almost walked into the end zone. It was really all up front – those guys did a great job blocking for me."

Jackson, a second-year corner drafted out of Cal Poly in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, will have two more games to prove he belongs on the 2013 roster. He's hoping his mistakes that led to the PEDs violations don't come to define him.

'It’s all a part of football and it’s all a part of life," Jackson said. "You’re going to go through ups and downs, but it’s how you handle things when things are bad that really define your character – not when they’re good. So, I’m just going to try to keep going out there and do what I can to help the team win games and show that I can still be a valuable asset to the team."

Follow me on twitter: @JasonHButt

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