Jackson Passes First Test with Action

Tarvaris Jackson had a goal for himself coming into Thursday night's joint practice with the Kansas City Chiefs and appeared to accomplish the mission in his first action of 2008 against a different team. See what he did and what he and others had to say about his performance.

The buzz in the air at a packed house at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls was not about the return of defensive end Jared Allen – he didn't attend – and it wasn't about Tarvaris Jackson. No, the most frequently heard comments remained about Brett Favre and his tenuous situation with the Green Bay Packers.

With the Vikings' quarterbacks wearing yellow jerseys, fans talked a number of times about Minnesota's number 4, rookie quarterback John David Booty. But the quarterback the coaching staff was focused in on most was Jackson.

"He looked sharp and it was good throwing against other guys and not obviously having all his tools at his hands," Vikings coach Brad Childress said after the joint practice with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Vikings held out half of their starters, including quarterback protectors Matt Birk, Steve Hutchinson and Jim Kleinsasser. Bernard Berrian, who is expected to be the team's No. 1 receiver and the newest offensive weapon to assist Jackson, also didn't attend the Thursday evening session in River Falls.

Without Berrian, second-year receiver Sidney Rice was the target of one of Jackson's deep passes, and Rice drew a pass interference penalty about 40 yards downfield on Chiefs cornerback Tyrone Brackenridge. Rice said the team is coming together nicely this year, and that includes him being more comfortable with everyone that surrounds him.

"I feel a lot more comfortable, more comfortable with the offense and more comfortable with the quarterbacks," Rice said following the practice. "I think the biggest thing that we're doing is that everybody is together this year. It's a team thing. Our little motto is, ‘Us, we, team.' It's just not individual. We're in this thing together."

Jackson was happy to get his first action of 2008 against a different team after spending the offseason and training camp working against the Vikings defense.

"It was good. You get tired of seeing the same guys day in and day out, even though those guys are my teammates," he said. "You want to go against a different colored jersey because you get kind of familiar with what (your teammates) are doing. You want to see something different."

Without Berrian, Jackson distributed the ball to several different receivers on his first series of seven-on-seven work, completing short passes tight end Braden Jones, running back Adrian Peterson and wide receiver Aundrae Allison before an incompletion to wide receiver Robert Ferguson.

Jackson said the absence of Berrian didn't really affect him.

"We were going to keep it basic anyway. We weren't going to do too much," he said of the offense sans Berrian. "It's good to see those guys out there when you're out there. We've got guys like Ferg and Aundrae out there and Sidney's already a starter, so those guys were out there making plays, along with the young guys."

On his second series of seven-on-seven work, Jackson completed a 5-yard pass to rookie running back Albert Young, followed by 10-yard connections with fullback Naufahu Tahi and Jones.

Once the action turned to full-team work, Jackson continued to look solid against the Chiefs' starting defense. His first pass, a strike to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, was dropped, but Jackson returned to Shiancoe immediately for a 10-yard completion and followed that with short passes to Young and then Rice in the red zone.

Jackson's next series of work might have been the most telling in his progression. After a short pass to Adrian Peterson that the running back took to paydirt with several quick, elusive moves, Jackson couldn't find an open receiver and simply threw the ball out of bounds instead of trying to force it. Not long afterwards, he executed a similarly smart play when he pulled down the ball and scrambled up the middle when that was the only safe option.

"I felt like I made quick decisions," Jackson said. "That was my main focus today – just make smarter, quick decisions."

Childress said he could see a difference between Jackson's performance Thursday versus being in the same situation against the Chiefs last year.

"The first time at it with different colored jerseys and now I see just a completely different demeanor. This is not live stuff, but you can see him move around and slide in the pocket," Childress said.

Without any interceptions during seven-on-seven and full-team work, it was mission accomplished for the Viking with the brightest spotlight, even if several of his biggest co-stars left him on stage to perform without them.


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