Jackson leads Tampa Bay over Houston
That’s OK. The speedy rookie is finding other ways to contribute.
Jackson returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and the Buccaneers’ backups beat Houston’s 16-6 on Thursday night in the preseason finale for both teams.
“That was huge,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said. “That’s one of the reasons we took him. When you have a guy like that who can change the game it’s bigger than big.”
Jackson, a second-round draft pick from Appalachian State, is a dynamic former track star whom the Buccaneers hope to use in a variety of ways. Along with his touchdown, he added 13 yards on a reverse in the first quarter.
“I was just using my speed and believing in it,” he said. “That was really big for me going into the season. It will be a big confidence maker for me.”
Jackson’s return, where he simply outran the Texans, was the highlight of this game where only one starter from either team played. Houston right guard Mike Brisiel played one series with backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels before being replaced. Rosenfels was 3-of-5 for 39 yards.
While Jackson excelled on special teams, kicker Matt Bryant struggled early, missing from 54 and 36 yards in the first half. He connected on field goals of 40, 29 and 31 yards in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t know if I was disappointed so much as I was shocked,” Gruden said. “The guy doesn’t miss field goals. I’ve got a lot of confidence in this guy. I think he’s going to be just fine.”
Tampa Bay’s Jeff Garcia didn’t play on Thursday despite a poor performance in his preseason debut last week. The 38-year-old missed the first two preseason games with a strained right calf and was intercepted twice in limited work against Jacksonville.
He believes he’ll be ready for the opener.
“I think my main (repetitions) have to come in practice, mentally getting sharp and physically doing what I need to do,” he said. “I don’t feel like I needed to play anymore in the preseason than what I played.”
He got more work this preseason than Galloway, who missed the entire exhibition season with a sore groin.
Backup quarterback Luke McCown was solid in his limited action, going 5-for-5 for 52 yards before being replaced by Chris Simms. Simms was 9-of-15 for 71 yards in his most extensive action of the preseason.
Still, he doesn’t think he’ll survive Saturday’s final cuts.
“I don’t think I’m going to be here,” Simms said. “I think the writing is on the wall. So be it.”
The Texans started second-year running back Darius Walker. The former Notre Dame standout had 18 yards on nine carries.
“They pushed us around on the line of scrimmage pretty good,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said.
Green injured his groin on his first carry in the preseason opener and Brown has struggled with a back injury since late July. Kubiak still expects them to be ready for the regular season.
Tampa Bay got 13 carries for 48 yards from one-time 1,000-yard rusher Michael Bennett. Bennett is third on the depth chart, but provides an extra body with Carnell “Cadillac” Williams out for at least the first six games recovering from a knee injury.
A bit of comic relief came in the second quarter when Houston’s 303-pound defensive tackle DelJuan Robinson fielded a short kickoff and rumbled for a 17-yard gain.
Kris Brown kicked field goals of 53 and 41 yards for Houston. During introductions, he led the Texans in paying tribute to receiver Harry Williams by holding up his jersey as his name was announced. Williams is recovering after injuring his neck and spine last week against Dallas.
Cornerback DeMarcus Faggins, one of three original Texans, had five tackles on Thursday and hopes his strong performance earn him a spot on the team.
“I don’t know if they’re getting tired of me or not, but I’m just trying to let them know that you can’t be tired of me,” he said. “I’m going to keep my name in your brain.”
Kubiak said he’s been impressed with how Faggins has rebounded from last season’s struggles.
“He worked through some hard, hard time that sent him the other way and now he’s battling back and playing his tail off,” he said. “he’s a great example of how much of a roller coaster ride it can be in this league.”