Monday, April 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

First-year Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson even better than advertised

TAMPA — Vincent Jackson always has been known as a big-play receiver, a vertical threat with speed to get behind defenders and the size to outmuscle them deep downfield for the football.

The only question for the 29-year-old entering this season was, at 6 feet 5, 230 pounds, could he show more growth at playing his position?

Jackson's performance in the Bucs' 23-21 loss Sunday to the Philadelphia Eagles offered more evidence that he is the complete package.

The super-sized, super-athletic Jackson took over the game on offense for the Bucs in the second half Sunday.

Lining up as the middle receiver in a bunch formation, he beat Eagles linebacker Jamar Chaney on an arrow route before splitting safety Nate Allen and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for a 13-yard touchdown. He also added a 40-yard catch on a post route and a 25-yard reception on a stutter and go, beating cornerback Curtis Marsh and safety Nate Allen on both plays.

Jackson finished with six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, marking the fourth time this season he has eclipsed the century mark.

"He's been such an impact player for us, first by his performance on the field, the plays he has made, the consistency, his professionalism, how he approached himself and the versatility," Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. "Because here is a guy who makes some plays on shorter throws, run after catches, in the tight green zone and yet still a vertical threat.

"The big block he had on (Doug Martin's) touchdown run, he was able to come and dig out the safety. So this is a complete, physical presence, a dominant physical presence. He's a joy to be around, he's a leader, he's part of the solution, we're really fortunate to have him."

Jackson is seventh in the NFL with 1,145 yards and eight touchdowns on 56 catches. His 20.4-yard average is tops in the league. What's more, he has proven he can play inside the numbers, take hits and hang onto the football.

Considering how NFL free agency can produce a bunch of million-dollar maybes, Jackson has lived up to his hype as the best available weapon on the market last spring. Considering that guard Carl Nicks suffered a season-ending foot injury and cornerback Eric Wright was suspended four games for what he says was Adderall use, Jackson seems like a good purchase coming over from the Chargers at five years, $55.5 million.

"I'm pleased with it, I'm happy to contribute the way I have," Jackson said. "There are a lot of great tools around me that allow me to be successful. For me, I just have to go out there and continue to work hard, have fun, enjoy it, and we'll see how the season ends. But right now, it's always about the wins first."

While many of Jackson's plays came against other players, he got the best of the Eagles' Nnamdi Asomugha, the former Raiders cornerback.

"I really do enjoy playing against the elite corners in this league; they bring out the best in you," Jackson said. "They're tough guys, they win their battles, you win your battles, and that's the fun part of playing this game."

With three games remaining, Jackson is taking aim at the Bucs' single-season receiving yardage record held by Mark Carrier, who had 1,422 yards in 1989.

"I think this year, as you watch him play, he's become more of a polished route runner in his double moves and his inside cut routes," Saints interim coach Joe Vitt said.

"He's a guy that bodies defenders as well as anybody in the league. He knows how to play the game, and I think he's really got a good rapport with the quarterback. He's the first look Josh (Freeman) is getting now, and I've got great respect for his body of work, I really do."

Comments
Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Late-round NFL draft picks are often made on a wing and a prayer.The Bucs' fourth-round pick Saturday will be no different. The team announced Monday that as part of the NFL draft TV broadcast, the team's fourth-round pick will be delivered to an ann...
Updated: 2 hours ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Published: 04/22/18
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Published: 04/22/18
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely able to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother, S...
Published: 04/21/18
Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

TAMPA —Wait 'til this year seems to be the refrain at One Buc Place, even though the team was strangled by expectations in 2017. But a solid offseason that has already brought a rebuilt defensive line, new center and place-kicker has renewed th...
Published: 04/21/18
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Published: 04/20/18
Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

We've seen Jameis Winston and Mike Evans bonding this offseason, going to Texas A&M pro day together, among other events. The two Bucs stars and their significant others double-dated Thursday night, getting courtside seats to watch the Miami Heat in ...
Published: 04/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

The NFL did the Bucs no favors with their 2018 schedule, Rick Stroud says, making them open at New Orleans, followed by home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Plus, linebacker Kendall Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle, p...
Published: 04/20/18
Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions. The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Published: 04/19/18