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Panthers rookie Donte Jackson the next Josh Norman?

Donte Jackson, the Panthers' second-round pick out of LSU, has often been compared to former Carolina cornerback Josh Norman because they both possess confidence and swagger. Chuck Burton/AP Photo

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- What Donte Jackson told fellow defensive backs early in training camp after finding himself one-on-one against second-year running back Christian McCaffrey tells you much of what you need to know about the Carolina Panthers rookie cornerback.

"He might outrun y'all, but he ain't going to outrun me. I'm way too fast for that. I'm like electricity. Zooooooooom!" fellow cornerback Kevon Seymour recalled of Jackson's comments about McCaffrey, who a year ago used his speed to lead the Panthers in receptions with 80.

"He's one of a kind."

Flashback to cornerback Josh Norman in his rookie season of 2012. After an impressive offseason practice, the fifth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina told reporters he was frustrating veteran Steve Smith, Carolina's all-time leading receiver, with his blanket coverage.

Norman brought a swagger and attitude to the secondary that showed the most during his 2015 Pro Bowl season, when he got into a war of words with Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant.

It's a swagger coach Ron Rivera admits the Panthers' secondary hasn't had since Norman moved on to Washington in 2016.

Until now.

Jackson doesn't talk trash like Norman -- at least not yet -- but the second-round pick out of LSU has the same kind of confidence that allowed Norman to start 12 games as a rookie and ultimately become the NFL's highest-paid cornerback at $15 million a year.

It's a confidence that likely will land Jackson the starting job opposite James Bradberry, particularly after Ross Cockrell suffered a fractured tibia and fibula on Monday.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Jackson has a chance to make one of the biggest impacts from Carolina's rookie class. Wide receiver D.J. Moore (first round), safety Rashaan Gaulden (third round) and tight end Ian Thomas (tight end) are also turning heads.

"It's good to see," Rivera said of Jackson's swagger and confidence. "But remember, you have to back it up."

So far, Jackson has. And he embraces the challenge and comparison to Norman that Rivera and teammates bring up often.

"We play the same position and we both talk a lot and we both compete at a high level, so that's going to draw a lot of comparisons," Jackson said. "Josh is a great player, so that's a good comparison to me."

Jackson also has something that Norman doesn't.

Blazing speed.

He had one of the fastest 40-yard dash times (4.32 seconds) at the NFL combine. When asked to name the fastest player on the Carolina roster after an offseason that general manager Marty Hurney used to increase overall team speed, Jackson didn't hesitate.

"Donte Jackson, No. 26," he said.

He showed the same confidence when asked if there was a player he couldn't cover.

"C'mon, man," said Jackson. "You know the answer to that. I don't feel like there is nobody I can't cover."

Filling a big need

Jackson showed his closing speed the first week of camp when he recovered and broke up a pass after getting beat by Moore, who ran a 4.42 40 at the combine.

"He's not the biggest corner, but he's real fast," Bradberry said. "He's definitely confident in himself."

That's what Rivera wants to see.

"When he's playing confident, comfortable out there, you see it," he said. "You really do. When you kind of see him back off I'm like ... then I kind of wonder if he's not sure. He tries to react. When he knows, he anticipates very well."

The secondary arguably is the biggest question on a defense that consistently has ranked among the top 10 in the NFL since 2012. The cornerback spot opposite Bradberry is arguably the biggest concern after Daryl Worley was traded to Philadelphia.

Jackson, also being used as a nickelback, is being given every opportunity to start.

"I didn't come out here for no other thing," Jackson said. "That's what it's going to be. I'm going to compete until Week 1 and I'm going to keep going until I get that job."

'You should see my scooter'

Jackson arrived at training camp with a scooter to get around the Wofford College campus. When asked if it was motorized, he reacted the same way he did when asked if there was a player he couldn't cover.

"I'm the motor. You see these things?" Jackson said as he pointed to his legs. "These are the motor. ... You should see me on my scooter, man. I can fly."

That hasn't gone unnoticed.

"Donte has elite speed," Pro Bowl middle linebacker Luke Kuechly said. "I don't think anybody can argue that. When you have a guy like that, especially in our division, it's really beneficial."

Jackson's other motor is his mouth. He's been talking like this since he started playing football as a kid, and backing it up with his play that helped him earn the nickname "Action Jackson" as his Twitter handle reveals.

Seymour insisted that's what takes Jackson's game to "a whole other level."

"That's what separates you right there," he said of a cornerback who can walk the walk and talk the talk.

Jackson likes to talk on the field. It kind of makes "everything fun and calm down a little more, especially me being a young guy," he said.

And he doesn't feel pressure to keep that up even though it's one of the first things that gets mentioned in an interview.

"No pressure," Jackson said. "It's football at the end of the day. So if I'm talking or not, I shouldn't feel no pressure. Coming to the NFL, I always felt I belonged here."