Even after starting seven games this season (with a 5-2 record) and two last season, the Vikings' second-round pick from 2006 still has to prove himself in a multitude of ways. Because of the high-profile nature of the position, Jackson continues to learn how to deal with the circumstances as they develop and one thing he has learned is to ignore whatever is written or said – about him, about his teammates, sometimes even about some other sports.
"I stay away from it (reading articles about him)," he said. "Growing up and always being a fan of all type of sports, so I read the paper just to look at different sports like baseball or basketball. The way things have been going around here, I just try to put the papers down and don't watch too much TV, especially because my TV always stays on NFL Network and ESPN. But I just try to stay away from those channels because a lot of bad things are being said about me. I just try to stay away from that stuff."
Jackson said the analysts didn't bother him as much last year because he was on the sidelines learning for much of the season. Announcers didn't have to learn to pronounce his name until later in the year, when he eventually played in four games and started the final two.
With criticism of him ranging from, "he shouldn't be a starting quarterback in the NFL" to "he's too injury-prone," he says he's learned to avoid the criticisms.
"Last year, I was pretty much on the sideline pretty much the whole year, but this year there are just a lot more things being said. So I just try to stay away from those things so I won't get angry. I love doing what I do, but at the same time, though, that is people's job to talk about different things, so I just try to stay away from that stuff," he said.
But when he does hear it, it's only human nature to have it affect him.
"You get mad. Some people don't really understand what is going on. They are looking from the outside in, so they really don't understand. I get mad even when they talk about other people, not just me," Jackson said. "When they talk about other guys and they really don't understand what is going on within that team or within that play or just different things. I just try to ignore that stuff because half of the time a lot of people don't know exactly what is going on and they don't know really know what they are talking about. It just keeps you from being angry. Listening to that stuff, I just try to still stay away from it, period."
Even those who played the game can change their tune and turn on a critical ear once they become part of the media. But Jackson said that doesn't mean they really know what's going on with the team.
"Even the ex-football players, they change a little bit when they become analysts and stuff like that," he said. "They are just doing their job. They are not football players anymore. With some guys, it's a little different, but I just stay away from that stuff period and I just try to keep my TV off."
One person who has studied the Vikings' film extensively and has come away impressed with Jackson's performance is Lions coach Rod Marinelli, who is preparing his team to play the Vikings this Sunday. The former defensive line coach believes Jackson is helping the Vikings offense become more explosive.
"They are doing even more with him and all the boots and the quarterback draws and things like that. He can go back and throw. He has got a great arm," Marinelli said. "People are giving them so much eight-man fronts (that) he is taking those shots down the field with the play-action pass. He knows what the coverages are and the reverse passes. They are doing a great job. They are looking for those big-explosion plays. They are using him very well and he is getting better and better."
Jackson's first pass last week against the New York Giants was a 60-yard touchdown to Sidney Rice, and the quarterback finished the game completing 10 of 12 passes with a career-high rating of 139.2. That might quiet the critics, if only for a while … not that Jackson is paying attention to them.
Reebok doesn't always release sales figures of NFL jerseys, but the return of Adrian Peterson to the playing field should signal a return to his jersey being an ultra-hot item at NFL retailers.
As of early last month, when Peterson started turning in 200-yard rushing performances, his jersey was the hottest seller in the league. He was outselling all other rookies, including Brady Quinn at a 2-to-1 pace and JaMarcus Russell at a 4-to-1 pace. He was up to 11th in the league and is likely in the top-10 right now, according to a team source.
Peterson is expected to return to action in at least a limited role Sunday against the Detroit Lions after tearing his lateral collateral ligament and missing the last two games.
"Today was my first day really going full speed in practice. I feel pretty good, so we'll see how I feel tomorrow and the next day after that," Peterson said after Wednesday's practice.
A number of other Vikings practiced on a limited basis: CB Antoine Winfield (hamstring), FB Tony Richardson (knee), RB Adrian Peterson (knee), C Matt Birk (knee), LB Dontarrious Thomas (groin) and WR Troy Williamson (concussion).
The Lions' injury report was much shorter. DE Ikaika Alama-Francis (hamstring) did not participate. No other players were listed on Detroit's official report.