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Vincent Jackson has been the name around the Chargers’ compound leading up their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday at 10 AM.
Jackson spent seven seasons in San Diego. During three of those seasons, he broke 1,000 receiving yards. He left the Chargers under less than friendly relations and went to Tampa Bay during the off season.
Currently, Jackson is leading the NFL in yards per reception with 22.9 and has the NFL’s longest reception at 95 yards.
To compare that to San Diego, wide receiver Malcom Floyd, the Bolts’ leading receiver, averages 19.9 yards per reception.
Head coach Norv Turner said that Jackson is a force to be reckoned with, they have to game plan for not just him, but wide receiver Mike Williams on the other side of the field.
“The biggest thing is they have another guy on the other side who is almost as productive,” Turner said. “When you can run the ball and then you have two receivers on the outside that are capable of making big plays, it does create problems for defenses. The number one thing we have to do is minimize the big plays. If we can keep the ball in front of us and do a great job tackling. The way they’ve scored their points through the past few months is from big plays, whether it has been long runs or deep passes.”
Defensive coordinator John Pagano says that the Chargers have two tools that have helped them prepare.
First, this team knows Jackson and his tendencies, moves, and intricacies of his playing style.
Second, San Diego still has big, physical receivers in Floyd, Danario Alexander, Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem for his defense to practice against.
“You get up there and you jam them,” Pagano said. “You’ve got to be physical with them. It’s something that we’ve been accustomed to here going against guys like Malcom [Floyd] and the tight ends that we see here in practice. Having these corners go up against Vincent [Jackson] these last four or five years is something that we’ve gotten a lot of work at. And that’s the number one thing about their offense –besides running the ball – is the ability to go down the field and make a play.”
Tampa Bay has opened up their running game for rookie Doug Martin by having the big physical receivers of Jackson and Williams. And the long plays they get come not only in the air, but on the ground.
Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano said he’s noticed defenses playing into the long passing threat and therefore opening the ground game a bit more.
“I think though that everything plays off each other,” Schiano said. “The run game off the pass, the pass game off the run. Especially when you use play-action pass as a part of your pass game.”
When asked if Jackson seemed to be preparing any more intensely for his old team, Schiano said it has been business at usual in Tampa.
“Today was business as usual,” Schiano said. “He practices hard every day. I don’t sense anything unusual. I’m sure if you’ve been somewhere for many years and now you’re not there anymore, there is a little extra juice flowing but I don’t get the sense, no.”