Martin Fennelly Columns
Bucs receiver Jackson already drawing rave reviews
TAMPA - The man has averaged 17.5 yards across 272 NFL receptions. He had 13 catches of more 20 yards for the San Diego Chargers last season, all by himself. His new team had 13 of those, total, in 2012. On Josh Freeman, the man goes truly deep. "He's a quarterback who should be mentioned in the top five in the league, I think," Vincent Jackson said. That's right, Vincent Jackson said that.Is Josh Freeman even top three in his division right now? Never mind ... It's no stretch, thinking that Jackson could change games this season. imagine a guy stretching the field in a Bucs game and the guy being a Buc. Of course, we haven't seen how that works in a Greg Schiano offense. We don't know what Vincent Jackson will do. He wasn't really used in last Friday's exhibition opener. Eighteen different Bucs were targeted with throws, but not No. 83. For now, it's still about Jackson's San Diego numbers: three 1,000-yard seasons, Pro Bowl, nine touchdowns last season. It's about the Jackson's $55.55 million Bucs deal, all those 5s in honor of Freeman. It's about rave reviews for the 29-year-old from coaches and teammates, including a clutch of young Bucs receivers who see a leader. V is for V Jack. "For me, I'm not looking here to seeing myself shine any brighter than anybody else," Jackson said. "I'm here to do my job, fulfill my role on this team and whatever that might be. I'm excited to do that." "You will see him do everything," Schiano said. "Deep, middle, short, under. He is capable of every route on the tree. He is capable of running them well." Here's the guy who might keep defenses honest. Here's someone to ease the strain on Mike Williams, who crumbled under it last season. Here's a pathological 5 believer. Maybe it's just Jackson way of leading, pumping up Freeman, announcing that the Bucs' offensive weapons are as powerful as the ones he left behind in San Diego. Huh? Whatever he does, his new teammates watch. Whatever he says, though he isn't big on talk, they listen, the receivers most of all. "Aside from V Jack, we're pretty young," Bucs receiver Tiquan Underwood said. "We just follow, we just basically follow Vincent Jackson's lead. He's been doing it for a long time at a high level, a constant professional on and off the field, a hard worker who lets his play speak for himself." Bucs back-up quarterback Dan Orlovsky was asked what he's seen from Jackson. "What don't I see?" Orlovsky said. "I've been as impressed with Vincent, as I've had a chance to play with some Hall of Fame receivers, with Andre Johnson in Houston, Reggie (Wayne), and Calvin (Johnson) in Detroit, and the similarities between them are scary. (Vincent) has an unbelievable amount of humility. I say that they have talent and perform like elite players, but work like they're undrafted rookies." Jackson hasn't always been a constant professional off the field. While with San Diego, he had law troubles, twice for driving under the influence. Maybe he learned lessons. But the man was apparently not a diva in San Diego, a My Ball type. Quiet, cerebral, devoted to his craft. Those words have been used to describe him. Dan Orlovsky had heard about Jackson's "bad reputation or something." "After the first couple of weeks I had to ask him where that's from," Orlovksy said. "He just kind of gave me a look. I don't see it. He's quickly bought into what we're doing and become a big-time leader." "It's all about coming in here and being a professional," Jackson said. "You just come out here and work on football and listen to the coaches and do what you're supposed to do each and every day. It's all about being accountable. Coach Schiano talks about that all the time, trust, belief and accountability. You have to go out there each and every day and put on your hard hat and bring your lunch pail to fulfill your job." He could be a great catch for the Bucs. Maybe he'll get a ball thrown at him next game.