This Sunday, Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson will face the team he spent the first seven years of his career with, the Chargers.
Jackson’s former quarterback Phillip Rivers spoke with the Tampa Bay media on his former teammate and what type of player he was and still is. According to Rivers, the wide receiver was one of the most prepared guys on the team.
“He practiced,” Rivers said. “He practiced and he was great in the meeting rooms as far as the way he prepared. Maybe this is of interest or not, but he wasn’t really on special teams. He got in there and tried to block a field goal or he did some different things block a punt, try to block a punt on the punt block team. Even though he wasn’t on those teams he probably had as good of a notebook as anybody in the locker room on special teams.
“I think he was just a real committed player. He practiced hard. He prepared hard. He was good in the locker room. You cannot say enough positive about my experience with him here and just the type of professional he was.”
When asked how much Jackson was missed as a player in San Diego, Rivers mentioned it is a loss after having him for a friend for so many years.
“Yes, well it is a two-sided question obviously,” Rivers said. “It goes without saying you certainly miss a great player like Vincent Jackson. He was a great teammate. He was a good buddy of mine for seven or eight years. Obviously he was a great player for us. You certainly miss having him here, but you certainly pull for him. He is having a heck of a year. You pull for him every week but this week obviously.”
However, the Chargers quarterback did also give credit to current teammates who have filled in the void left by the now Buccaneer wide receiver.
“Then on the flip side of that,” Rivers said, “I can’t comment on him without also saying how much I appreciate the guys we have. With new acquisitions with (Robert) Meachem and (Eddie) Royal and (Danario) Alexander and we have had a lot of guys step up. Obviously with the guys Malcom Floyd and (Antonio) Gates and the rest of the crew that’s been here a good many years. Certainly miss him, but certainly also pleased with who we have here.”
The Colorado native’s former head coach Norv Turner also spoke to the local media on the type of player he is and how the team is trying to make up for the loss of him.
“You can’t help but say when you have a player like Vincent that you’re not going to miss him,” Turner said. “We’re working hard to get the production in other areas. Like I said, Vincent is a tough matchup guy. If he gets one on one with most defensive backs he’s going to make big plays. If you go double on him or do things to keep him from having a big play then it opens opportunities for everyone else.”
The sixth-year San Diego head coach realizes what having a player who is versatile such as Jackson can bring to a team.
“I appreciate Vincent more than most having had the opportunity to work with him here,” Turner said. “Obviously the big plays he’s able to make, big plays turns into points and there are a lot of other things that go along with it other than points. Obviously it opens up the field for a lot of other guys when you have a player like Vincent and I think they’ve benefited from Vincent being there. It helps the running game, it helps the other receivers and those are two very talented guys in Mike Williams, who is a very talented receiver in his own right and makes big plays like Vincent, and when you have a guy on each side it’s really challenging.”
Even though most players would let emotions get to them when facing their former team, the eight-year veteran will not let anything deter him from just focusing on winning. It may be his first year in the league wearing pewter and red; however, Jackson is not thinking about trying to show up his old team.
"The most important thing for me is what we do as a team,” Jackson said. “I have nothing personal going on with those guys. I’m a Tampa Bay Buccaneer now and that’s my focus and us getting away with a win is really the only thing that matters.”
- Dory LeBlanc contributed to this report