[size=14pt]QB accounted for 96 yards in preseason opener[/size]
By Chad Courrier
The Free Press
Tarvaris Jackson had anticipated his first professional football game for some time, but he really didnâ€™t battle the nerves until he was in the Metrodome tunnel, ready to run onto the field in front of more than 60,000 fans.
â€œFirst game, man, Monday Night Football, itâ€™s crazy,â€ the rookie quarterback said Monday night.
Jackson returns to training camp today, and he should have a boost in confidence from his 1 1⁄2 quarters of action against the Oakland Raiders.
Jackson completed 7 of 13 passes for 60 yards, and he was the teamâ€™s leading rusher with 36 yards on three carries. He played four series and led the team to two field goals in a 16-13 loss.
â€œThereâ€™s stuff I could have done better,â€ he said.
Jackson entered the game midway through the first quarter. His first pass floated and was knocked down by the defense, then he made a 9-yard scramble to set up third-and-1. After a first down, Jackson made a short completion before he had another receiver open on third down, but the pass took too long to get there.
â€œI have to make decisions a lot faster,â€ Jackson said. â€œI have to speed up, but not to the point where Iâ€™m rushing.â€
Jacksonâ€™s best series came at the end of the second quarter as the Vikings took over at their own 32 with 31 seconds remaining until halftime. He completed three passes for 35 yards, and he scrambled for 10, setting up Ryan Longwellâ€™s field goal as the half expired.
In the third quarter, Jackson led the team on another scoring drive, running 17 yards for the key play. But he didnâ€™t slide at the end of the play and took a shot as he went down, hitting his head on the turf.
â€œHe learned a couple of lessons,â€ coach Brad Childress said. â€œNo. 1 that the Metrodome turf is hard. The other thing he learned is that when you slide, you need to make the first down. ... That could have been a very easy first down, but heâ€™s OK.â€
Jackson said that when he got to the sideline, the trainers asked him to recite the months backward to see if he was OK. Jackson said he only made it about seven months.
â€œEverything was a little blurry for a while,â€ he said. â€œCoach asked me a couple of questions. I guess I answered them OK.â€
Jackson returned to finish the drive, which could have ended in a touchdown had Steven Jackson held on to a pass near the goal line, a play that Jackson created by moving around in the pocket.
Jackson said he didnâ€™t hear the loud ovation, each time he entered the game. He said he was too focused on Childressâ€™ play-calling and trying to relay that information to the team. Undoubtedly, fans will be clamoring for more of Jackson in the preseason, already pushing for him to be Brad Johnsonâ€™s backup when the season begins.
â€œIâ€™m just trying to get better each day,â€ Jackson said. â€œIf it happens, it happens. Iâ€™m just trying to become a better football player.