August 11, 2014 in Sports

Jackson relishes competition for Seahawks backup

Bob Condotta Seattle Times
 
Courtesy photo

Seattle Seahawks
(Full-size photo)

RENTON, Wash. – The NFL free agent signing period was barely a day old last March when Tarvaris Jackson agreed to return to the Seahawks.

Jackson broke the news first on his Twitter account, writing “12’s one more year.’’

And when it was revealed that Jackson’s contract for $1.25 million was fully guaranteed, it seemed Seattle’s backup quarterback position was settled for 2014.

Jackson said a few other teams showed interest. But none offered a certain shot at a starting role, and he saw no reason to leave Seattle and working another year behind Russell Wilson with a chance at another Super Bowl ring.

Shortly before the draft in April, though, the Seahawks traded for Terrelle Pryor, giving Oakland a seventh-round pick for a player whose athleticism they felt was too intriguing not to take a chance on.

The addition of Pryor may have caught some off guard, with more than a few wondering if maybe the Seahawks had picked him up to play a position other than QB, something all involved quickly dismissed.

The move, though, didn’t raise much of an eyebrow from Jackson. Having turned 31 on the same day the trade was made, and entering his ninth season in the NFL, he has seen just about everything.

“Just knowing how the NFL works and how (Seahawks coach) Pete (Carroll) and them, they are always preaching always competing,’’ said Jackson, who is 17-17 in career starts with the Vikings and Seattle. “So it didn’t surprise me. I just took it as another chance to go out here and just prove myself.’’

It’s what he did last year when he beat out Brady Quinn to become Seattle’s backup.

Then, though, it was Jackson who was the late arriver, signed in June after having been released by Buffalo, brought back by the team for whom he had started in 2011, but with the understanding that he would be a backup.

It’s a role he says “you never really get used to’’ but one he says he has accepted.

Jackson didn’t have to do much last year, but he did it about as well as he possibly could, compiling a 140.2 quarterback rating (a perfect rating is 158.3) completing 10 of 13 passes in three mop-up appearances (he also played the final three offensive snaps of the Super Bowl).

Thursday against Denver, he took over after Wilson had played two series, and he led a two-minute drive at the end of the first half for a field goal. A sack led to a three-and-out to start the second half.

Pryor, meanwhile played the final three series, and led two drives for field goals (one starting at the Denver 24 after an interception) and then an 86-yard march that almost won it for Seattle before throwing an interception in the end zone that allowed Denver to escape 21-16.

Jackson finished 5 of 7 for 47 yards and a rating of 89.6 while Pryor was 9 of 16 for 137 yards and a rating of 58.6.

After Sunday’s practice, Carroll offered an assessment of the play of the two backups against Denver.

“I thought Tarvaris did an excellent job in there,’’ Carroll said. “He’s very comfortable in the pocket, read really well, handled everything. He had a little better protection when he was in. He had a little more time to throw the football, took advantage of it and did well.

“Terrelle, I thought, did a really good job under the circumstances. He showed us a lot of stuff. He made some terrific throws in the pocket. He did a nice job getting out. He wasn’t as effective on the move as we hoped he would be with throwing the ball and getting the ball out. But he did a very good job his first time out, gave us a chance to win a game and unfortunately, we didn’t get it done.’’

That Jackson entered the game second and is listed as the backup on the depth chart might seem to indicate an advantage in the battle.

Seahawks coaches, however, have said the two will rotate working with the second unit throughout camp (also on the roster is B.J. Daniels, who did not play against Denver due to a groin issue but could see action in other exhibition games).

The Seahawks could keep both Jackson and Pryor on the 53-man roster, at least assuring each has a job.

Jackson, though, says he’s not assuming anything.

“I’ve competed against so many guys and battled for a position pretty much every year of my career,’’ he said. “So it’s nothing new for me. It’s just a challenge, man. I enjoy it.’’


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