Emotional Jackson thrives in return
Tanard Jackson knew Sunday's game against New Orleans was going to be emotional for him. Jackson missed 56 weeks of action while serving an NFL suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He was reinstated by the NFL on Tuesday and activated by Tampa Bay on Friday.
The Buccaneers showed their outward support of Jackson and allowed him to carry a team flag during player introductions. Jackson repaid that support by recording five tackles, one interception and a pass defense during Tampa Bay's 26-20 victory against New Orleans at Raymond James Stadium.
"Words can't express how I feel right now," Jackson said. "It was an emotional day for me from the start. I'm glad we got the win. That was the biggest thing for me."
Jackson's biggest victory was being in NFL shape despite his hiatus. Despite cramping up in the fourth quarter, Jackson started against New Orleans and did not appear to lose a step.
In the second quarter, New Orleans faced third-and-8 on its own 22-yard line when Saints quarterback Drew Brees attempted a pass to Robert Meachem. The ball bounced off Meachem's hands and into Jackson's arms.
After the interception, Bucs defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake celebrated with Jackson, but Lake tore his patellar tendon in the process. Lake was on crutches after the game. Despite the sideline injury, Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman capitalized on Jackson's interceptions, throwing a 19-yard touchdown to Preston Parker three plays later for a 20-7 lead.
"Based off the practice tape (last week), we felt like he was going to play exactly the way he played when he was here before," Lake said. "He's a playmaker. He's an unbelievable talent. We expected him to play like Tanard Jackson, and he did."
Jackson also played like someone happy to have another chance. "I'm just grateful to be back out here, grateful to be back in the locker room with these guys," Jackson said.