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Broncos decline to activate Jackson after his latest suspension, meaning he could be cut

Kareem Jackson Denver Broncos Kareem Jackson - Getty Images

DENVER (AP) — There's a good possibility 14th-year safety Kareem Jackson will get cut on Christmas Day after the Denver Broncos chose not to activate him for their game against New England on Sunday night following his return from his second suspension.

The Broncos' roster exemption on Jackson expires Monday, so they'll either have to make room for him by bidding farewell to another player or release the 14-year veteran.

If that happens, that doesn't necessarily mean it's the end of the road for Jackson in Denver. The Broncos could try to re-sign him to their practice squad and then elevate him for their final two games and any playoff games if they qualify.

But a release would certainly open the possibility Denver's defensive tone-setter has played his last game in navy and orange, if not in the NFL altogether.

PJ Locke has played exceptionally well in Jackson’s absence and he became the first safety in franchise history to sack the quarterback in three consecutive games during Jackson's latest suspension for an illegal high hit on Minnesota's Joshua Dobbs.

“You don't know how the opportunity may come but if you get it, you've got to take advantage of it and he did," Jackson said during at interview at his locker Thursday. “I would be disappointed in PJ if he didn't take advantage of the opportunity.”

Jackson, who doesn't play on Denver's special teams, now has missed seven of Denver's last eight games, and in the one game he did play in that stretch, he ran afoul of the league's unnecessary roughness rules on his very first tackle.

He hit Dobbs too high during a play in which the Vikings QB was lined up as the running back and ran a toss sweep after tight end Luke Hockenson took the snap. Although no flag was thrown, the league suspended him again the next day, and this time, the four-game punishment was upheld on appeal.

Jackson has surrendered $837,000 in lost paychecks to go with $89,670 in fines for unsafe hits this season, although he said his $43,709 fine for an unflagged hit on Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco in Week 6 was rescinded by the league.

As a converted cornerback, Jackson’s 5-foot-10, 183-pound frame puts him on the smaller size for NFL safeties, something he’s compensated for with his hard-hitting style.

Jackson was granted an audience with Commissioner Roger Goodell last month as he sought advice on how to quit running afoul of the league’s unnecessary roughness rules, under which hits that were once celebrated are now scorned.

Jackson said, however, that he only came away from that meeting with more questions because, he said, he was told it's his responsibility to keep his opponents safe.

“The rules, I don't understand," Jackson said. "Obviously, now (I'll) just try to play within them as much as I can. I'll be physical, but at the end of the day they want to see points. I'm unclear how to play the game, protect the offensive guy, protect myself and make plays.”