An old friend came home to Tampa on Tuesday

It's been three years since he was their Super Bowl hero, picking off two passes in a 48-21 rout of the Oakland Raiders. Jackson left the Bucs as a free agent for the Arizona Cardinals immediately after the Super Bowl, signing for five years and $14 million, and he promptly had his best season in 2003, with 105 tackles and six interceptions, but he hurt his back during the Cardinals mini-camp and never recovered.

He's desperately needed by the Bucs whose playof hopes are hanging by a thread. For all intents and purposs, the Bucs need to win their final seven games to have any shot at the playoffs. A 24-10 loss to NFC South Division-leading Atlanta last Sunady was crushing, and in that game, the Bucs lost starting safeties Jermaine Phillips and Dwight Smith, neither of whom are expected to play on Sunday. Jackson said his back feels fine and he is ready to return home to Tampa. "I'm at home,'' Jackson said. "I'm familiar here. It's a blessing to be here.'' Phillips had surgery on his broken right forearm on Wednesday and is sidelined indefinitely. Smith sprained his right knee and is day-to-day as the Bucs prepare for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday (1 p.m., Raymond James Stadium).

Linebacker Shelton Quarles said he was looking forward to seeing his old teammate back in thelineup.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him back out thre,'' Quarles said. "He's a fiery kind of guy and he gets everyone excited abou playing footabll. Maybe that's what we've been missing on defense.''

Whatever teh Bucs have been missing, they'd better find it soon.

Bucs Blitz Top Stories