// photo by Agnes Lopez
The Jaguars have made it to the playoffs for the first time in a decade. On a team stocked with high-dollar free agents and bonafide top-tier NFL talent including four Pro Bowl selections (A.J. Bouye, Jalen Ramsey, Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell) a little known receiver and punt-return specialist who, at the start of the season was literally sleeping in a rented Nissan Maxima parked sometimes at the stadium to save money, was instrumental in securing the team’s post-season berth. Jaydon Mickens, 23, is a man of slight build (5’11”, 170 lbs.), electric speed and the ability to make opponents miss when his team needs them most. Twice named the league’s special teams player of the week for returning punts, he caught his first two touchdown passes in a 45-7 blowout over the Texans in December.
“Punt returning is something I had to get better at to get on the team. I looked at guys around the league like Dante Hall, Reggie Bush, Deion Sanders—guys who really took punt returning to the next level,” Mickens says. “You gotta move the cover team the way that you’re really not going. But then sometimes, switch it up and actually go the way that it looks like you’re going.”
The Los Angeles native may be elusive on the field, but he has put down roots in Jax. Sort of. His Southside apartment is much more comfortable than the back seat of a Nissan.