Kurt Coleman was in Jaiquawn Jarrett's position just a year ago.
Coleman came off the bench due to a Nate Allen injury against the Colts and recorded what was then a career-high four tackles. He made his first career start the following week against Washington and netted his first career interception.
On Monday night, Jarrett saw his first action on defense when Allen suffered a concussion against the Bears. The physical product out of nearby Temple had five tackles and helped make some key stops. Allen has yet to be cleared to return to action, so Jarrett has taken the first-team reps in practice and is preparing to make his first career start Sunday against Arizona.
"JJ's done a tremendous job of getting in with the coaches and understanding our game plan, understanding the playbook," Coleman said. "I was proud of the way he played last week out there. I think every time he steps out on the field he's going to get better and better."
Jarrett said that taking the approach to prepare every week as if he's the starter served him well on Monday night because "you never know what can happen." He credited Coleman for helping to make sure that he was always in the right place on defense.
"It was exciting to get out there for the first time at safety and be able to execute," Jarrett said.
And execute he did. Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo complimented Jarrett by saying that the rookie played "a solid game" and displayed a lot of the traits that they saw on film when they decided to use a second-round pick on him back in April.
"We all know that he's a physical guy," Castillo said. "He's a good tackler, so just the thing is just getting comfortable being in there and playing."
It would only be fitting for Jarrett to make his first start Sunday at the same stadium where he played his college ball. When Jarrett was drafted, he was expected to compete immediately for a starting role. Jarrett was "never frustrated" with his role on defense and credited a "level-headed" mindset that helped him stay patient.
The preparation behind the scenes on days off and development on the practice field will hopefully show if Jarrett gets a chance to start Sunday.
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