New Challenges for Jackson

The education of second-round draft pick Tarvaris Jackson continued throughout the team's spring practices, and the newest Vikings quarterback was learning the physical and mental challenges that will face him over the next year or two. See what Jackson had to say about the differing styles he ran in college and now and about his new playbook.

Rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson didn't have to write a report about how he spent his summer or spring away from Alabama State, but he definitely continued his education.

Jackson spent May and June with his baptism into the NFL life—working out, practicing and studying football.

What he learned is that not all offenses are the same, and the Vikings are exposing him to different things that he wasn't asked to do much at Alabama.

During one week of practices with the Vikings, Jackson was spotted rolling out more and throwing on the run. In his initial minicamp weekend, when he wowed first-time observers with his arm strength, he was in the pocket just like the veteran signal-callers.

While rolling out didn't look like a strong suit of Jackson's, he said it was just part of a concept the Vikings were installing that week.

"I can do both, but I'd rather be in the pocket and if I want to run outside, that'd be fine," Jackson said. "The bootleg stuff, that's good too, but I don't consider myself a running quarterback."

That might be good news for the Vikings. First, they lost last year's starter, Daunte Culpepper, on a play where he took off running downfield and ended up never going back to the huddle. Instead, he was carted into the locker room with three torn ligaments in his knee and traded away as damaged goods four months later.

Secondly, Jackson wasn't asked to run much in college, either. However, the offense he is learning with the Vikings isn't a close resemblance of the one he ran at Alabama State.

"We were a lot more down-the-field in college. This is a lot more of a dink-and-dunk offense and just take what the defense gives you, short 3 or 4 yards a play. (In college) we would run the football, but then it was five or six (passing) plays and a touchdown," Jackson said.

It's not just the style of offense that had Jackson working hard this spring and summer. While the West Coast offense is different than his collegiate frame of reference, the size of the playbook is also different – far bigger.

"It's a lot more plays, but there are also different tags on it. Pretty much our offense you had plays and you ran them, where here there are a lot more plays, and the hardest part is just trying figure out what the defense is doing. They're all over the place. The defensive coaches pretty much know what the offensive guys are trying to do and you do too, but it's still hard trying to make the right reads and make them quick."

Until he is able to do that, Jackson will likely be standing on the sidelines and continuing his NFL education during the regular season. But before that time arrives, he's got to undergo his rookie training camp, a time when young heads begin to swim with information and players can be made or broken.

So how much of the offense was installed in the many spring practices and minicamps Jackson attended and how much is left to be installed when the Vikings start camp at the end of this month?

"I have no idea, but if we've got more to go then I've got a whole lot more studying to do," Jackson said. There's a lot in right now, but I'm thinking they're going to be pretty much the same concepts, but a lot more tags on the routes."

Let the education of Tarvaris Jackson continue.


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