Jackson Impresses at First Practice

Rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was fairly impressive for his first NFL practice, showing physical skills and a little veteran wily. See what he and head coach Brad Childress had to stay, along with notes from minicamp's first day.

Tarvaris Jackson took to the field for the first practice of minicamp Saturday morning and impressed most observers with his strong arm. Certainly, he gave first-time onlookers a sense of why the Vikings were impressed enough with his abilities to offer up two third-round draft choices to move into the final pick of the second round and grab him.

Head coach Brad Childress, however, already knew all of that.

"What does he look like throwing the football? I am buying that throwing motion," Childress said draft weekend. "I'm not expecting to change it or move it around. It is like buying cars; if you don't like that one, you go to the next one. He has a great throwing motion. He is athletic."

Another Vikings official said Jackson should never get a sore arm with his throwing motion and noted his large hands, an asset for quarterbacks. Koren Robinson said Jackson reminds him of Michael Vick with his easy demeanor and strong arm.

Saturday, Jackson got to prove the accolades and disprove the criticism in front of his teammates and the media. Although it was Jackson's first practice in a Vikings uniform (or at least a red jersey that the quarterbacks wear), his physical skills were apparent. He looked to have the strongest arm of the four and still had some touch on his short passes.

"Tarvaris I saw made a couple of nice throws. I thought it had a little something on it, and he did a good job with all of our verbiage. I thought stepping up in the huddle and taking command of the huddle, he did a nice job there too," Childress said after the morning's two-hour session."

For his part, Jackson wasn't intimidated by the process of his first NFL practice, but there is plenty for the former Division I-AA quarterback from Alabama State to digest.

"As you learn your plays, you've got to learn who to read, the steps of the route and all of that type of stuff. There's just a lot of stuff you have to remember," he said. "It's just the minicamp playbook so far and that's pretty thick, so I'd hate to see the season playbook."

Veteran quarterback Brad Johnson could help that process.

"He is an older guy, he won a championship," Jackson said of Johnson on draft weekend. "Actually, my quarterback coach (at Alabama State, Reggie Barlow) played receiver with (Johnson) at Tampa Bay. He told me a lot about him. It'll be a great fit for me. He is a little older, but he is still playing really well. I just want to get in there and learn as much as possible from him before he leaves the game."

Although Jackson got rave reviews about Johnson, who will turn 38 years old in September, the tutelage process hasn't started yet. He just met Johnson Saturday morning for the first time, but already Jackson displayed a veteran move in practice.

On one occasion, he went to a hard count and was able to draw several offensive and defensive linemen into false starts and offside.

It was just one practice, but Jackson showed that Childress shouldn't be the only one "buying that motion" or the athletic skills. Still, it will be some time before Jackson is expected to see the field during a regular-season game. For now, however, the initial reviews were positive.


  • Running back Mewelde Moore (wrist) was wearing a yellow jersey, but he participated in the offensive drills Saturday.

  • Safety Willie Offord (knee) was not limited in practice.

  • The Vikings added linebacker Lee Foliaki (6-2, 242) of Texas A&M to the roster as an undrafted rookie.

  • The Vikings received a scare when cornerback Fred Smoot went down to the turf and grabbed his left knee. He returned to practice about 10 minutes later and said it was nothing serious, but "that's how fluke injuries happen."

  • Kicker Ryan Longwell hit field goals of 38, 40 and 43 yards toward the end of practice, but he missed the first of two "last-second" field goals from 45 yards out. The first one hit the right upright and bounced back before Childress reset the action and Longwell connected on his second try.

  • While Childress on draft weekend said Jackson could improve with better coaching, Jackson defended his coaching from years past. "I had some good coaches, and coach (Reggie) Barlow, he played in the NFL for a few years. All my coaches pretty much coached for a long time, except my first coach, and he was a good coach. I was at Arkansas and had a good coach there and learned a lot from him and took it to Alabama State."

  • Childress was happy with the conditioning of many of the players: "I thought our team did a nice job of coming back and losing some weight," he said. "We had guys lose 14 pounds, 6 pounds, 10 pounds. There are a couple guys that stayed flat, but basically they're starting to bring it back down, which they need to do before they get to training camp. Other than that, not bad for the first practice."

  • Linebacker Chad Greenway intercepted a J.T. O'Sullivan pass in the second practice.

  • Defensive back Cedric Griffin was used strictly at cornerback while Greg Blue was used only at safety. There had been speculation that Griffin could play some safety and Blue might be a possibility at outside linebacker.

  • Cornerback Marvin Ward left the morning practice with a strained hamstring.

  • Fullback Joey Goodspeed hurt his knee in the second practice but was later jogging on the sidelines.

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