Tuesday, August 25, 2009
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Jackson impresses in Vikings' backup QB competition

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[August 25, 2009]  EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -- In two short days last week, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson went from competing for a leading role in the Minnesota Vikings' offense to fighting for a roster spot as an understudy to Brett Favre.

HardwareWhen the Favre theatrics closed after two series of the exhibition game against Kansas City on Friday night, Jackson delivered a nearly perfect performance in relief as he tries to assert himself as the man for the job.

Jackson completed 12 of 15 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He had a quarterback rating of the maximum 158.3.

"Whenever you play well, you always feel good," Jackson said after the game. "Regardless of the situation or the circumstances, it felt good. It was a long week for me. It just shows that if you just stay focused, you'll be fine."

Favre's abrupt addition to the roster last week pushed Jackson and veteran Sage Rosenfels one spot down on the depth chart. Throw second-year player John David Booty into the mix, and it looks like three players are competing for two spots.


Rosenfels was impressive in the first preseason game against Indianapolis. He completed 10 of 13 passes for 91 yards while playing with the first team.

But that was the 2009 Vikings, B.F. -- Before Favre.

Rosenfels missed the game against the Chiefs with a sprained ankle, and Jackson took advantage of his time with the starting offense. Booed when he ran on to the field to replace Favre late in the first quarter, Jackson threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Visanthe Shiancoe and a 64-yard TD to Darius Reynaud in Minnesota's 17-13 victory.

"I'm not going to say it wasn't hard," Jackson said. "But I just tried to stay focused on what I had to do and stay focused on the goal at hand. Just tried to go out here and get better."

It was a complete reversal from Jackson's abysmal performance against the Colts the previous week, when he completed seven of 15 passes for 39 yards and a 53.5 rating.

With the starting offensive line in front of him, and Adrian Peterson behind him, Jackson looked much more comfortable against the Chiefs.

"You've heard me always say you have to play around the quarterback, whether it's the protection game, wiggling open against man-to-man, some of those things," coach Brad Childress said on Monday. "So that's probably the base thing I saw. He was playing with some better people in there.

"Obviously, I'm not going to take away anything from what he did. I thought he was very deliberate in what he was doing and was very confident in what he was doing."

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The biggest strides Jackson made Friday night came against the blitz. In his first three seasons in the league, Jackson was easily rattled by pressure from the defense, including in a playoff loss to Philadelphia last season.

The Chiefs threw several different blitzes at Favre, Jackson and Booty in an unusually aggressive approach for a preseason game.

"I thought (Jackson) did a decent job of handling it," Childress said. "He knew what he was doing and where he wanted to go with it."

The Vikings do not play again until Aug. 31 at Houston. That gives Childress two extra days of practice to evaluate the position.

Favre will play the entire first half against the Texans, meaning Jackson, Rosenfels and Booty will have only two quarters to split between them with the backup offense to make an impression.

"It's difficult for everybody to play," Childress said. "One guy plays a half and then you parcel out the rest. That's typically the way it is when you have four quarterbacks."

Even though Favre will turn 40 in October, it is highly unlikely the Vikings would keep four quarterbacks. Jackson has the most knowledge of the offense, while Rosenfels was brought in specifically to add more consistency at quarterback. Booty could be kept as a developmental player.

"You never know what can happen in this league," Jackson said. "So I'm just trying to go out there and play loose like I have nothing to lose. Just go out there and have fun."

[Associated Press; By JON KRAWCZYNSKI]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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