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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs S Jackson suspended indefinitely for violating substance abuse policy



Bucs safety Tanard Jackson has been suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. His suspension begins immediately and means he is out at least for the rest of the year. He is eligible for reinstatement on Sept. 22, 2011.

It's the second time Jackson has tested positive for a banned substance since entering the NFL's intervention program. He was suspended the first four games last season. 

"Tanard is a talented young man whom we hope is able to use this year to put his troubles behind him and ultimately return a stronger man and player,'' general manager Mark Dominik said Wednesday. "It's up to Tarnard whether the team and our fans eventually realize his considerable promise.

"Obviously, the coaches, fans and all the players are disappointed.''

Jackson practiced on Wednesday and was informed of the suspension later in the afternoon. Dominik said the Bucs weren't made aware of Jackson's positive drug test until Wednesday.

But there was speculation during training camp that Jackson had tested positive for a banned substance and was appealing. Jackson had no comment when approached by a Times reporter about the matter last month.

Jackson's suspension means he won't be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2011 as scheduled because he won't earn a year of service. That means the Bucs will own his rights.

Jackson did not return messages left by the Times. A year ago, upon returning to the Bucs after missing the first four games of 2010, Jackson said he had learned his lesson.

"Every Sunday watching the game was the lowpoint for me,'' Jackson said at the time. "Seeing these guys who I went to training camp and preseason with and the guys I've played with the past few years, seeing those guys and me being on the couch watching them. That was the lowpoint. Every Sunday.

"Being a starter on this defense, not only that, coming back and being look upon as a leader on the defense with experience, so I definitely felt I let my team down. That's the thing I'm disappointed in myself the most. I disappointed myself, but your actions affect others around you and that's the thing that hit home with me.

"Just being away for those four weeks and having the time to reflect on the things I've done and how I hurt myself, how I hurt the people around me such as my teammates, coaches, people who had trust in me...just taking that time to reflect, that's what I've really been addressing.''

It's the second time this season the Bucs have lost of member of their secondary to suspension. Cornerback Aqib Talib missed the first game of the season and was docked two game checks for violating the NFL's player conduct policy. The league still is reviewing an apparent violation of the terms of that suspension when Talib attended the Bucs 17-14 win over the Cleveland Browns. Suspended players are not allowed to attend games, even as spectators.     

Jackson's suspension will be a big loss for the Bucs, who boast the NFL's third ranked scoring defense, allowing 10.5 points per game.

In addition to being a starter, Jackson tied for first on the team last year with five interceptions despite missing the first four games.

In two games this season, Jackson was fourth on the club with 13 tackles, including two for a loss, with one quarterback pressure and a forced fumble. 

With Jackson out, the Bucs will be forced to turn to Sabby Piscitelli, Corey Lynch or seventh-round pick Cody Grimm. The Bucs kept five safeties, which is one more than most teams. Lynch intercepted two passes in the final preseason game at Houston but has been primarily a special teams player throughout his career.

Piscitelli lost his job to Eagles free agent Sean Jones after an unproductive 2009 season in which he started 16 games and recorded two interceptions and only three passes defensed.



[Last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 6:55pm]


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