It's a cold, crisp morning at Paul Brown Stadium and another walkthrough is in the books for the Bengals.
William Jackson, the third-year cornerback, enters the locker room not only bundled up from head to toe, but smiling from ear-to-ear. His energy and joyous buoyancy resonates with his teammates, which has helped the Bengals, who host the Denver Broncos on Sunday at 1 p.m. (order tickets), maintain a positive outlook despite three consecutive losses.
"I'm just here to do my job, try to smile as much as I can," Jackson said. "When you are losing it's kind of hard to smile, but my coaches want me to get back to smiling and get back to being me and building on the confidence the last few weeks."
Reticence is an uncommon quality at cornerback, where many players pride themselves on the ability to talk-trash and back it up.
The soft-spoken Jackson, however, continues to learn the finer points of the position.
"I think Will is starting to understand that there's more to just playing corner in the NFL," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. "There's a lot of things that are occurring, and you have to take care of the details of it as well. I think he's really growing with the details of it, which is good to see. He's conscientious, he's working hard at it and he wants to be good, and I think that part of it will help push him over the hump."
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Jackson has graded out as one of the Bengals' top defensive players the previous three weeks. In Week 11 at Baltimore, Jackson broke up two passes and didn't allow a Ravens receiver to have a single reception. The following matchup against Cleveland, the Browns receivers had two catches against him for a paltry 13 yards.
With Lewis coordinating the defense, the third-year pro out of Houston believes he possesses more clarity with the system.
"Basically understanding the defense and what I need to do in the defense," Jackson said of his recent play. "TA's (Teryl Austin) defense was different and my play was different. I really didn't know the defense as well as I know Marvin's defense."
Jackson continues to be a great example for the Bengals making strides in recent weeks trying to improve upon a defense that has played inconsistently.
Week after week, Jackson continues to play better. To Jackson, a little sunshine is the key ingredient to the Bengals getting back on track and contending again in the AFC.
"I just want to go out there and let my teammates know they can depend on me," Jackson said. "We have to get back to having fun, smiling and just playing the game."