The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced Friday afternoon that reinstated safety Tanard Jackson will be activated for Sunday's home game against New Orleans.
Jackson returned to the team Tuesday after serving a 56-week suspension stemming from his third violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. The 26-year-old has not logged game reps since being part of the Bucs' 20-7 win at Carolina during Week 2 of last season.
Space was made for Jackson on Thursday evening when rookie RB Allen Bradford was released from the 53-man roster.
News of the activation was not made public prior to head coach Raheem Morris's Friday afternoon informal press conference in the media room of one Buccaneer Place and he did not specifically state how much playing time -- if any at all -- Jackson would receive this Sunday. Whenever that time comes, though, Morris did say he firmly believes his veteran safety with 204 career tackles and eight interceptions over four seasons provides an upgrade to the Tampa Bay defense.
"What gives me the confidence is watching him come off suspension a year ago and kind of go through that same process in my head. Then watching him come back and watch him clearly be the best safety on our team is what gives you the confidence to put him out there. Does he have to ease his way into it? Will he have some mistakes? Probably. Do I want him to make fast, hard mistakes? Yes, that’s kind of what I am interested in and what I want him to do."
As for Jackson, he said during open locker room Friday that he's ready to go if called on, but that determination is not his to make.
"I hope so," Jackson said. "I leave it up to them to make that decision, but I feel good. I am feeling better, especially today after yesterday. So we will leave it up to them, but I [would] like to [and] hope I can play this week."
Free safety Cody Grimm was Jackson's primary replacement last year and to start this season, but a right knee injury ended his year during Week 3's win over Atlanta. Third-stringer Corey Lynch has started at free safety the past two weeks. Tampa Bay has gone a combined 11-8 since Jackson's latest absence and he said he sees slight differences in how the defense is playing currently.
"A lot more aggressive in what we do, but I like it," he said. "I feel like I can fit right into the scheme of things. I like the aggressiveness that we've been displaying the past couple of weeks. It's a credit to the players we got here to be able to do that. I'm just working my way in, getting adjusted to the scheme of what we have been doing around here and learning the playbook and things that I haven't been around to see. Slowly but surely."