The Buccaneers already had a great appreciation for WR Vincent Jackson, but it is growing stronger after his six-catch, 94-yard performance in the team’s come-from-behind win over the Panthers.
Jackson had been kept fairly quiet — he had only three catches for 49 yards through the first 59 minutes of the game — but QB Josh Freeman was able to connect with him on a series of impressive plays late in the fourth quarter as Tampa Bay mounted its comeback. Jackson caught a 17-yard pass on a third-down play with 32 seconds left, a 24-yard TD pass two plays later and the two-point conversion to tie the game and send it into overtime.
The eighth-year veteran has never been named to an All-Pro team, but he has put himself in the conversation for the honor this season.
Team insiders have credited Jackson for his workmanlike approach, which has rubbed off on teammates, and it has not come as a surprise to those who have seen Jackson demonstrate his commitment to the game.
“He even worked his ass off when he knew he wasn’t going to play (during a contract dispute with the Chargers in 2010,” a league source said.