RENTON, Wash. – Tarvaris Jackson came to Seattle for a fresh start. For a chance to get away from Minnesota where his career was defined by the will-he-won’t-he-stay- retired drama of Brett Favre.
But only a few weeks into the next chapter of his career, the one that has him written in as the Seahawks’ starting quarterback, Jackson again is being asked about Minnesota, because, as fate would have it, the Vikings happen to be Seattle’s opponent for Saturday’s preseason game.
After playing only two series against San Diego in last week’s preseason opener – a game that took place only a week after Jackson and other free agents were allowed to start practicing – Saturday will give fans their first extended look at Jackson running the offense. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Jackson and the rest of the first-team offense will play the entire first half. And to Jackson, getting ready for this season is far more important than facing off against the team that made him the starter in 2007, then turned to Gus Frerotte a year later before bringing Favre in during training camp each of the past two years.
“Other than I’m seeing some old teammates, some old friends – that’s going to be fun – but we’re working on Seattle,” Jackson said. “We’re finally getting better here. We’ve been here for about two weeks now together so we’re just trying to get better. It’s preseason, it’s about getting on the same page, it’s about getting some continuity as an offense and that’s pretty much it. I’m not going to lie and say it’s not going to be fun playing against my old team – it is – but that’s not what this is all about. It’s about us.”
Even so, Jackson admits there’s a little part of him that wouldn’t mind showing the Vikings and their fans what he is capable of, but that just won’t be the priority. For a team that has so many new faces on an offense that is new to everyone but Jackson and receiver Sidney Rice, there is no time for grudges.
Rice, who will make his preseason debut this week, is also more focused on his new team than this weekend’s opponent.
“I haven’t even though about it,” he said. “It’s football. No matter who is on the other side, I’m a Seahawk now and I’m going to war with those guys, and that’s all that matters.”
For Carroll, who frequently states that he wants a quarterback to manage a game and not try to do too much, it will be important to keep Jackson from trying to show up his former team.
“I don’t want him to think he has to try too hard to make an impression,” Carroll said. “I just want him to play football.”
One thing that will help Jackson play football this week is the presence of a much better group of receivers. In his limited time last week, Jackson was missing starters Rice and Mike Williams, as well as Ben Obomanu and rookie Kris Durham. And the hope of Carroll and Jackson is that, given his full complement of weapons and a full half to get into a rhythm, Jackson can show everyone else – his former team included – what got Carroll and general manager John Schneider excited about acquiring the former Viking. So far, Carroll said Jackson has been even better than he was expecting.
“I’ve seen way more,” Carroll said. “I hadn’t been on the field with him personally, I did it all off film with the rest of our guys that were evaluating. But he has tremendous skills. He has a great release, he’s got a great arm, he has touch, he throws the ball well on the move, he throws the ball down the field well, he’s particularly good at sticking the ball in seams and creases, he’s creative and he’s real competitive, too. He has total command of what we’re doing.”
Tight end John Carlson missed a third straight day with what Carroll described as “a shoulder that’s bothering him. He’s got a labrum issue that we’re working through.” Cornerback Kelly Jennings also sat out with a head injury… Receiver Kris Durham, a fourth-round pick who has been out with a hamstring injury, returned to practice for the first time in more than a week… Newly-signed safety Atari Bigby practiced for the first time as a Seahawk, and said he knows he’s not likely here to compete for a starting job: “My role is special teams, come in a little bit on defense, but they told me they have their starters.”