Jackson Takes Pleasure in Preseason Test

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said Friday night's game showed some things to work on, but his initial assessment from the game accentuated the positives.

Before Friday night's preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams, Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said he was tired of scrimmaging against the Minnesota Vikings defense and that it was important for him to get off to a good start.

Consider it mission accomplished for the second-year pro who is entering his first season as the expected starter.

"We moved the football. We didn't have any turnovers, we didn't have any penalties that brought us back, but we had a couple drives that stalled a little bit. We wanted to get in the end zone, but we didn't have the chance to do that, but I think we got some good things done (Friday) and we've got some stuff to build on," Jackson said.

Jackson probably had the best night off all the quarterbacks on the field. He had a high completion percentage (72.7), connecting on eight of his 11 attempts, had the highest yards-per-attempt (7.5) and the highest rating (94.1) – the Rams' quarterback combined for a 56.0 passer rating.

"I was just so excited to be out there. I love playing at home," Jackson said. "Even though it was a preseason game, I couldn't sleep (Thursday) night. I was still up like it was a real game, but to me it is. I'm going to go out and prove myself any time I get the chance. My adrenaline was flowing."

The downside was that the Vikings offense didn't score any touchdowns, but Jackson looked sharp with his passes, and he was especially happy with his decision-making.

"Coach always preaches (getting) rid of the football, be decisive, don't pat your feet too long," said Jackson, who also had two rushes for 25 yards. "The West Coast Offense is difficult. This is my second year in it, and I'm still learning each day. You've got to make quick decisions, and there are a lot of different things happening – different down and distances can change the whole play. You've just got to have experience in it. I feel like a rookie quarterback in the West Coast Offense. It's very difficult, but once you get the hang of it, you'll love it."

He said he ran with the ball on a couple of occasions because he went through his reads, didn't see any opportunities to make a good pass and wanted to make a quick decision instead of holding onto the ball too long and taking a sack. His success would seem to indicate that he is past a knee injury that he dealt with last season, and his athletic ability adds a dimension to the offense that wasn't there in 2007.

"That's another threat that teams are going to have to worry about. They can't do certain coverages against me on third-and-long because I have to prepare to run the football. It just opens things up for the other guys," he said.

Jackson said he'd probably watch the game film from Friday 10 to 12 times before putting it away. It's all part of his learning process, but he wasn't about to say that preseason game provide only simple, watered-down defenses for him to diagnose.

"The Rams do a whole lot. We were expecting a whole lot more than they showed because last year in the preseason they brought a whole lot more things out. Actually, in the preseason, defenses do a whole lot more and you have to prepare for it because they show things that they normally wouldn't do so you waste time watching film on it. You never know what you'll get in the preseason because people are doing that," he said.

It was just one test in a series of challenges he'll be facing this season. Next up is a date with the New York Jets, where Jackson won't have the comforts of a home crowd.

NOTES

  • The Vikings' afternoon special team practice lasted just under the scheduled one-hour time slot.

  • The team worked mainly on its kickoff return schemes during the short afternoon session.

  • Aundrae Allison, Justin Surrency, Troy Williamson and Mewelde Moore all fielded kickoffs.


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