In the wake of Brett Favre deciding to remain retired, Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, who are competing for the starting spot, struggled early in one-on-one drills at the Vikings' opening day of training camp, but each of them seemed to get better once the full-team work started.
"I felt pretty good, but I couldn't throw a spiral for nothing today. I've got to work on that," Jackson said. "Other than that, it was fine. We've got to get better. It was the first practice."
All three quarterbacks, including John David Booty, couldn't find a rhythm with their receivers early, but Sidney Rice said some of that was the fault of the receivers.
"It started out a little sloppy today, but we've got to get our rhythm back. It's the first time in shoulder pads since Philly, our last game," Rice said. "We worked with both guys in the offseason and we rhythmed up with them and we've just got to do that same thing here at camp."
Jackson to Rice was the highlight of the one-on-one drills and was probably the best play of the day.
After an unimpressive start to the drills, Jackson seemed to pull the quarterbacks out of the doldrums of camp's first practice. Head coach Brad Childress indicated Jackson's familiarity with the offense gives him a head start on Rosenfels.
"Tarvaris has been through training camp and he has been through the installations more than Sage has," he said. "He probably has a little better understanding when we start, but Sage has played in a very similar system. He will get up to speed very quickly."
He dropped back to pass and Rice got enough separation on a deep post route with second-year cornerback Marcus Walker in coverage. Despite his self-criticism, Jackson threw a tight spiral that initially looked like it might be an overthrow, but it turned out to be the perfect pass. Walker tried to undercut the throw, allowing the pass that traveled roughly 50 yards in the air to turn into a 65-yard touchdown.
"On that ball right there, I was able to get past the defender and he just laid it over the top," Rice said.
But Rice even tweeted that the first practice wasn't too impressive.
"It was an average practice. First time in shoulder pads since Jan. We WILL have a better practice this afternoon," he wrote.
Jackson said Childress wants him to just keep progressing.
"He talked to me and said, ‘You pretty much know the offense. It's just about taking that next step and just little things.' That's pretty much it, just being smart with the football," Jackson said.
The fourth-year quarterback, who is in the final year of his contract with the Vikings, said the three months of Favre speculation didn't affect him.
"I use every little thing I can to try to motivate myself. During the whole offseason I just try to concentrate on myself and get better," he said "… When I seen it on TV, I watched it, but it wasn't like I was worried about it because it was nothing that I could control. It was kind of out of my control."
Jackson said friends and family called him after Favre informed the Vikings that he would remain retired, but the callers were surprised that he wasn't excited by the news. He said he was simply focused on training camp, Favre or no Favre.
"It wasn't a celebration like everyone tried to make it. I just tried to come out here and work hard regardless," he said.
Although Jackson looked better than the other quarterbacks in the initial practice, he wasn't ready to characterize the situation as "his job to lose." He called it a friendly competition, saying the two quarterbacks are getting to know each other better every day.
"I am competing against him, but I'm also competing against myself," he said.
In addition, he is competing to gain (or keep) the trust of his teammates, those who backed him throughout the ordeal and those who were looking forward to playing with Favre.
"These guys just want to win. Whoever is the best guy, that's who they want in there," Jackson said. "I understand that. Hopefully I compete and get better and better each day and go from there. We'll let Coach Childress evaluate the situation."
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