Showing his usual burst, he exploded from his stance and chased down an over-the-shoulder pass from a coach in stride. About 30 yards upfield, a voice hollered from where players of a different position were gathered.
“Who's the new guy?” it called out.
Minutes later, Jackson caught another pass and made his way to the back of the line for his next rep. Again, the voice chimed.
“Way to catch the ball, 83,” it yelled, and the speaker made a fist pump. Jackson turned around and, with a smile from behind his facemask, acknowledged Philip Rivers.
The quarterback was happy to see his wide receiver return after a long absence, and so were the rest of the Chargers. Jackson made his first practice since signing a one-year tender last Friday, ending a holdout that will ultimately cost him 10 games and months of team activities.
Jackson, who seemed happy to be back with his teammates, worked primarily with the scout team, so Billy Volek served as his quarterback for the day. At the very end of practice, Rivers did squeeze in a throw to his old No. 1 wide receiver. Jackson said it came on a deep dagger route, which he caught. On Nov. 28, when Jackson makes his season debut against the Indianapolis Colts, those catches will begin to count.
“It's nice to have him back out there,” Rivers said. “He brings an energy and personality, and an added dimension to the team. It'll be nice to see him in a few weeks.”
In the meantime, Jackson is still making his impact. On Wednesday, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound receiver was simulating Houston Texans wideout Andre Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound target whom the Chargers will face Sunday.
Cornerback Antoine Cason said facing Jackson on the scout team “does everything for us.”
“They are similar guys,” Cason said. “They're big, strong, fast and can catch the ball, run good routes. Having Vincent out there for us and with us is great for us to see each day.”
Despite the long layoff, Jackson impressed onlookers with the athleticism he showed.
Coach Norv Turner said the 2009 Pro Bowler “was not rusty.”
“As much as you're around a guy and you see him every day, and then he's not around for a while, I think you can forget how good a guy can be,” Turner said. “He's awfully good.… He knows he's got work to do to get ready to play. He's got time to do it. But he was outstanding."