Bucs safety Tanard Jackson reinstated, could play immediately
Suspended Bucs safety Tanard Jackson, banned from the NFL for more than a year, is en route to One Buc Place after being reinstated by the NFL, according to his agent.
The Bucs have since confirmed the news, saying they placed Jackson on the exempt/commissioner's permission list where he can remain for up to two weeks before being placed on the active roster.
Jackson, suspended under the league's substance-abuse policy, has violated the league's drug guidelines at least three times. He became elibible for reinstatement on Sept. 22 but issues related to the NFL lockout and the inability of the NFL to monitor his progress in the substance-abuse program are believed to have impacted his reinstatement.
The Bucs have not publicly commented on Jackson during his absence, but they are expected to eventually place him on their active roster. The Bucs recently lost starting free safety Cody Grimm to a knee injury. Backups Corey Lynch and Larry Asante have been splitting time in his place.
Teammates have said Jackson has been maintaining his conditioning and preparing to play as soon as his ban was lifted. Jackson participated in workouts with teammates in player-organized workouts during the NFL lockout in June. He appeared to be in good shape and presumably hadn't lost the instincts that made him an instant starter as a rookie, in 2007.
Jackson is in the final season of his rookie contract with the Bucs, but the team was not obligated to put him back on its roster. Given that he has been twice suspended for drug use -- for four games in 2009 and last year's one-year ban -- it was thought there might be some pause from the organization.
But the need at safety combined with Jackson's immense talent made accepting him an easier decision.
While on the exempt list, Jackson can practice with the team, participate in meetings and other team activities without counting toward the 53-man roster. That gives the team time to evaluate Jackson's readiness to play without requiring a roster move.
The Bucs still have time to place Jackson on the active roster in time for Sunday's game against the Saints, should they choose to do so.