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Tanard Jackson Hopes To Take Advantage Of Opportunity

Posted Jun 5, 2014

Redskins safety Tanard Jackson has not seen action in an NFL game since 2011, but coach Jay Gruden and veteran team leaders say he’s coming along well in OTAs.

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than a good comeback story – especially one in which chances are given to someone in need.

That’s been the case with safety Tanard Jackson, who has been given a chance by the Redskins to revive his NFL career after he was suspended for the past two seasons.

Jackson went from budding NFL star prior to his suspensions to working in a warehouse to support his family, but said he never gave up on his dream to come back one day.

“Going from playing football to working in a warehouse at a 9-to-5 job is a humbling experience,” Jackson said. “It’s taught me to never take anything in this business for granted.”

Jackson – who has not seen action in an NFL game since 2011 – showed signs of brilliance during his time playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. From 2007 to 2011, he started 56 games, and, during the 2010 season, recorded five interceptions – two of them he took back for a touchdown.

He signed with the Redskins in April 2012 and showed off his talents in practices, in training camp and in the preseason games, but off-the-field issues led to two year-long suspensions, giving Jackson a chance to re-evaluate the decisions he was making.

“It was difficult,” Jackson said. “You can imagine somebody getting taken away from something that they love to do and having to humble themselves after doing something wrong. That was me. I had to take responsibility and face the consequences for it. I put myself in this position, and if I wanted it back, I had to work hard for it.”

The Redskins – who have been looking to bolster their pass defense – were willing to give Jackson a chance to earn a roster spot back this season. The team brought in veteran safety Ryan Clark from the Pittsburgh Steelers to, along with cornerback DeAngelo Hall, mentor a young group of players in the secondary.

Clark said he’s been paying attention to Jackson during practices, workouts and meetings, and feels he can get back to the same level he was at as a member of the Buccaneers.

“Tanard is going to be awesome this year,” Clark said. “He’s going to be a huge part of what we do. He is going to get it right and get us right.”

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is also paying attention to Jackson’s comeback attempt, saying “he doesn’t look like he’s been away for two years.”

“He’s done a good job,” Gruden said. “He’s mentally into it, physically he’s in good shape, a lot better shape than we were thinking he would be, so he’s done a good job.”

Gruden said despite Jackson’s prior mistakes, the team is going to “give him a shot.”

“He’s going to make the most of it,” Gruden said. “I’m sure he’s a good person, a good player and hopefully he’ll learn from his mistakes off the field and perform at a high level like we know he’s capable of.”

After going through one of the toughest challenges of his life, Jackson said he’s doing his best to work hard each day to improve – both on and off the field.

“I just want to be able to put it behind me,” he said. “A lifestyle change is necessary any time you are in a situation like the one I was in. The support of the good people around me here in Washington has really helped me moving forward, and I could not be more thankful.”

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