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Jackson's releases comes as a surprise

The Sports Xchange

Greg Schiano said all players would have a clean slate. But the Bucs' coach didn't waste any time making a player clean out his locker.

The Bucs released safety Tanard Jackson Tuesday morning (April 10), claiming a failed physical as the official reason for terminating his contract.

Jackson, who played the 2011 season with a torn rotator cuff and strains in both hamstrings, underwent surgery on his shoulder three months ago and should be cleared to play June 1.

But general manager Mark Dominik said the Bucs weren't happy with Jackson's growth on and off the field.

Jackson missed the first week of the voluntary offseason program and said he had been rehabbing his injured shoulder in Maryland and New Orleans.

"What's important to us as an organization is the growth of our football players and how they handle (things) on and off the field to become the best Buccaneer possible," Dominik said while meeting with reporters Tuesday at One Buc Place. "And that's what we're looking for."

Jackson, 26, was shocked by his release but said he has no hard feelings toward the organization that stood by him through a series of suspensions.

"I was a little shocked, but the person I am, I accept how it comes," Jackson told the Times. "I realize it's a business. It's hard to be too upset with the decision because of what I've been through, and I have no hard feelings toward the organization and wish them the best."

Jackson was suspended for the first four games of 2009 for a second violation of the league's substance abuse policy. After playing two games in 2010, he was suspended indefinitely by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Upon being reinstated last October, the Bucs welcomed Jackson back and he started the next game at safety against the Saints, recording an interception and five solo tackles.

Jackson strained a hamstring returning an interception 43 yards in a 24-18 loss to the Bears the next week and had to leave the game. He finished the season with 35 tackles and two interceptions.

Dominik said he was unaware of any positive test for a banned substance or impending penalties from the league office.

"It's all about becoming the best Buccaneer possible," Dominik said. "That's what growth is. And we want this football team to accelerate. That's what it's about."

Jackson said he has been playing with a bad shoulder since 2009 and last season continued to perform despite having a torn rotator cuff and two hamstring strains.

"Man, my shoulder's been injured since '09 and it's something that I put off and I played through a series of injuries," Jackson said. "Not to make excuses for the way I played, but I had a lot of injuries last year, two bad hamstrings and a torn rotator cuff. My body feels good right now. Obviously, there's more work to do, but I'll be ready to play football."

Jackson said he was unaware that the Bucs were unhappy with his decision not to rehab in Tampa Bay or that it ultimately led to his release.

"I really don't know, maybe it was because I wasn't doing rehab here in Tampa after surgery but doing it in New Orleans with trainers up there," Jackson said. "They just said they were going in a different direction. That's the way it was given to me."

With Jackson gone, Tampa Bay has only four safeties on their roster -- Cody Grimm, Ahmad Black, Devin Holland and Larry Asante. Grimm is the only one to have started a regular-season NFL game.

Grimm is coming off a knee injury that forced him to miss 13 games last season. A broken leg ended his rookie year after 11 games in 2010.

The safety position is pretty shallow in the NFL draft and traditionally, not many go in the first round. In 2010, Eric Berry went fifth overall to the Chiefs and Earl Thomas was selected 14th by the Seahawks. The highest-rated safety in the draft this year is likely Alabama's Mark Barron, but he is projected by most to be a late first-rounder.

Schiano came to the Bucs embracing his reputation as a disciplinarian but saying every player would have a clean slate. But Jackson's fresh start will have to come with another team.

"We obviously talked to Tanard today and wished him the best on his future endeavors and with his next organization," Dominik said. "But it's something we felt we wanted to do as an organization and needed to do."

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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