Following his second violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Tanard Jackson was suspended indefinitely by the NFL on September 22, 2010 and was declared ineligible for reinstatement until September 22, 2011.
Fast-forward to Sunday’s game against the Saints just a matter of days after his reinstatement on October 11th. There was little belief in that Jackson would play, much less make an impact.
Boy, were the skeptics wrong.
The former Syracuse standout returned to his free safety spot to post five tackles and grab an interception after a Drew Brees’ pass bounced right off the hands of Robert Meachem in the second quarter.
Jackson, a converted college corner, is among the elite safeties in the league when at his best. We can only expect him to improve as he returns to full fitness following his long layoff.
Prior to missing the last four games of the 2009 season following his first violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, Jackson collected 71 tackles, forced three fumbles, intercepted five passes, and scored two touchdowns.
If Jackson comes anywhere close to that production, there’s no telling how much of an impact his presence may have on a defense that had already ranked in the top 10 prior to this week.
However, the safety's triumphant return wasn't all rainbows and butterflies as Bucs defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake unfortunately tore his patella tendon in the process of celebrating Jackson's aforementioned interception.