COSTA MESA, Calif. — As the Los Angeles Chargers opened mandatory minicamp Tuesday, cornerback J.C. Jackson watched from the sideline as he continued to work through rehabilitation drills.

Nearly eight months removed from surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee that sidelined him after Week 7 last season, Jackson expressed optimism that it won’t be long until he is cleared to return to football activities.

“I’m right on track,” Jackson said of the 7 to 8 month recovery timeline provided by doctors. “Almost there.”

“He’s progressing. He’s been working really hard,” coach Brandon Staley said of Jackson. “This summer will be important for him.”

Jackson’s surgery was performed last October by Dr. Neal El Attrache, who he is scheduled to meet with again next week to gain clarity on a return date.

Jackson, 27, sounded hopeful that opening training camp with the team in late July remained a possibility.

“I’m expecting to come out here and practice every day,” Jackson said. “That’s how I’m taking it.”

Ahead of the 2022 season, the Chargers signed Jackson — the NFL interceptions leader (25) over the previous four seasons with the New England Patriots — to a blockbuster five-year, $82.5 million contract.

He was anticipated to become a pillar of a defense that included outside linebackers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack and safety Derwin James Jr., all of whom return in 2023.

However, Jackson missed Weeks 1 and 3 because of an ankle issue and struggled to adapt to Staley’s scheme in five starts.

When asked about his season ending prematurely after signing a lucrative deal and producing uneven play, Jackson said he “felt like s—.”

“Haven’t done anything. Got hurt. And I just got paid,” said Jackson, who finished the season with 15 tackles and two pass deflections. “I still got to prove to my teammates and to myself that I am still Mr. INT. I didn’t do s— last year.”

Jackson described the recovery process as mentally taxing but said it has provided a unique opportunity to spend more time learning. “I’ve been grinding, meeting with the coaches every other day, learning, just breaking down the defense so it can slow down,” Jackson said. “I’m going to be ready to go this year.”

Staley said Jackson would be expected this season to return to defending their opponents’ top receiver.

“That’s what we brought him here to do,” Staley said. “Fundamentally, we’re asking him to do the things that he’s done his whole career, just it’s with us. It’s just getting that comfort zone of being around the guys that you play with … I’m confident that in training camp, once he gets to working with his teammates, that he’ll be able to showcase the real player that he is.”

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Chargers CB J.C. Jackson ‘right on track’ in injury rehab