It's official now - the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have activated Tanard Jackson, and he will be eligible to play on Sunday. The much-troubled safety will finally see the field again after 56 weeks of living without football. The question now becomes how much he can play, how much he will play, and how rusty he is.
Returning from a prolonged absence from football is hard. It takes time to get used to hitting people, being hit and playing for sixty minutes. Getting into football shape isn't easy. But Jackson will have no time to complain, as he will be thrown right into the fire.
The Bucs have struggled at the safety position this year. Sean Jones has played adequately, providing good run support and looking pretty decent when asked to cover tight ends one-on-one. But the former Cleveland Brown lacks speed and range in pass coverage. At free safety the Bucs have used both Cody Grimm and Corey Lynch, but neither has made a big impact this season.
Grimm is too slow to make a big impact in pass coverage, although he is always in the right place, and is now on injured reserve. Corey Lynch, on the other hand, struggles to play the run and 'shoot his gun' - he is not an explosive hitter or tacklers, and struggles to make a decision and get to the play.
Tanard Jackson might be the answer to the Bucs' problems there. He has the talent to be a Pro Bowl safety - he has the speed and instincts to play in deep coverage, and he is decisive in run defense. The question is whether he can play fast and be decisive in his first game in over a year. He has practiced twice over the past 56 weeks. He's more likely to be rusty than an immediate answer at safety.
But if he is ready to play, and he can play up to speed, then he does represent a significant upgrade.