Teammates Describe Jackson's Progress

Second-year pro Tarvaris Jackson wants to become more consistent as a quarterback and several of his teammates believe he is getting better every day. See what Brooks Bollinger, Jackson and numerous receiving teammates all had to say about Jackson's improvement.

Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson consistently talks about the need to learn and improve daily. The second-year man from Division I-AA Alabama State certainly has the opportunity to do both. Four days into training camp, the strong-armed Jackson has taken nearly every snap with the first-team offense.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time, trying to get better each day," said Jackson, who completed 47 of 81 passes for 475 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions last year in limited duty. "That's all I can do. When the time comes and coach puts me in the game, I feel like I'll be ready. I just keep preparing hard every day...

"Coach (Brad) Childress is on me about the small things. I understand he has to be on me. The small things go a long way. I'm just listening. I'm taking everything in from him and Brooks (Bollinger) and everybody. So I'm just trying to learn each day. If I do something wrong, I just try to get better."

The 6-foot-2, 232-pound Jackson has lived by his word. On the first afternoon of camp, Jackson appeared shaky during 11-on-11 drills. He twice fumbled the snap from center Matt Birk, misfired on a few passes and seemed bothered by the heat applied by the Vikings defense.

Since then, Jackson has demonstrated greater command of the offense and poise under pressure.

"Things come a lot more clearer to me (than last year)," said Jackson, who considering his small-school roots was a surprise second-round pick of the Vikings (64th overall) in 2006. "(It's) slowing up for me every day. That's the main thing about a quarterback, you just want everything to slow up and try to take control of everything."

Jackson's teammates have noticed his improvement.

"He's getting better every day," said Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson.

Added wide receiver Troy Williamson: "TJ is getting comfortable with what he has to do as far as reading different routes and where to put the ball in, where it needs to be. He's getting more confident in himself that the receiver is going to be there, and we're going to be there to catch it."

Rookie receiver Aundrae Allison, a fifth-round pick, agreed.

"I feel he's getting way more comfortable by the day," said Allison. "I'm comparing him to the OTAs (organized team activities) and minicamp. When we came into (training) camp, he seemed way more comfortable and way more confident. I think he's getting a better feel for his receivers out there."

Another one of those receivers, free-agent acquisition Bobby Wade, the wideout with the most NFL experience on the Vikings roster, notices that increased comfort zone.

"Obviously, the more stuff you throw at him, the more he's going to get comfortable," Wade said. "He's doing well. He's trying to take it in stride and hone the little skills that he needs to hone to get better to get ready to play…I think he's going to do fine as long as he takes advantage of his personal skills."

Those "personal skills" certainly aren't lost on Wade and other Vikings.

"He's pretty accurate for a quarterback, especially at his age," said Wade, who caught passes last season in Tennessee from Rookie of the Year Vince Young. "He's able to throw balls that some quarterbacks take years to get comfortable with. He's able to throw those balls now."

"He has no doubt the strongest arm I've played with," said Allison. "That's a good thing because on this level everything is so fast, so you'll want to have a guy with a real strong arm."

And quick feet.

"He's a smart quarterback who is very athletic as well," said new tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. "He can throw the ball on a dime and he can scramble, he can run."

Brooks Bollinger, Jackson's supposed competitor for the starting job, also appreciates what his Mankato roommate brings to the squad.

"He's got a ton of ability," said Bollinger who has thrown 293 career passes in four years with the Jets and Vikings. "One thing I picked up right away when I got here last year is just that he really was like a sponge as a rookie. He kind of kept quiet but kept his ears open and really picked things up and listened to Brad (Johnson) and coaches and soaked up as much information as he could."

Jackson, who last season became just the third rookie quarterback after Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton and Tommy Kramer to start a game for the Vikings, said he's soaking up lessons from Bollinger this year.

"I've learned a lot from him, just watching," said Jackson, a fan of the Cowboys and Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman when growing up. "It helps out a lot just having Brooks and my coaches back there too."

Bollinger says he doesn't consider himself a teacher, rather he tries to "pass along" information gleaned from past experiences.

"We just talk football," Bollinger said. "A lot of it is dialog back and forth. What did you see out there? What do you think? Hey, be careful for this. That one got me last year… "Tarvaris has played quite a bit of football too. I had the opportunity to be in this offense a little bit in New York and learn from some pretty good guys in Chad Pennington and Vinny (Testaverde). So it's a lot of dialogue and hopefully we both get something out of it."

Wade thinks Jackson is and remarked that he is most impressed by the 24-year-olds ability to mentally digest the offense. "It's the toughest position on the field and it's a lot of information you've got to process, but he's done well," said the fifth-year veteran.

Jackson believes "consistency" is the main area in which he must improve.

"I might come out here and make a good throw and come out here and miss a throw that I can make in my sleep," he said. "I just want to come out here and be consistent every day. Like coach said, show them what you are going to get. I don't want to be my best one day, and the next day I'm not as good. I just want to be very consistent each day."

Monday provided a perfect example of what Jackson is hoping to eliminate. He threw some crisp on-target passes but also tossed an outlet pass into the ground and got picked off before hitting Wade in stride on a deep route.

"In minicamp and OTAs you want to get better, but at the same time, you know you have training camp coming up," Jackson said. "But now I don't have anything after this but football games, so I want to get better as fast as possible."

Fortunately for the Vikings, Jackson's teammates think he is well on the way.

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