Bucs’ Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely, out at least a year

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 4: Safety Tanard Jackson #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lines up on defense against the Arizona Cardinals at the Raymond James Stadium  on November 4, 2007 in Tampa, Florida.  The Bucs won 17 - 10. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The NFL has suspended Bucs’ free safety Tanard Jackson indefinitely for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

From the Tampa Tribune:

Jackson, who was suspended without pay for the first four games of 2009 for violating the same policy, learned of the suspension after Wednesday’s afternoon workout at One Buc Place, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said.

Specifics of Jackson’s violation were not disclosed, but the suspension began immediately and he cannot apply for re-instatement until July 22, 2011.

“We know that he is suspended for the rest of the year,” Dominik said.

The NFL’s substance abuse policy primarily covers drugs and alcohol, as performance enhancing drugs are covered under a separate policy. The substance abuse policy does not call for a suspension until a player reaches Stage 2 of the league’s intervention program, indicating Jackson failed for the second time to remain in compliance with the terms laid out for him as a Stage 1 offender.

“As much as I would like to comment on it, I’m going through a lot and I can’t talk about it right now,” Jackson told the Tampa Tribune shortly after learning of the suspension. “Maybe at another time.”

Jackson has a load of talent but this is his second suspension in two years and once again the Bucs are left with Sabby Piscitelli at free safety. Piscitelli was almost cut in training camp and if he does wind up back in the starting lineup, expect opposing offenses to consistently attack him in coverage.

This is unfortunate news for the surprising 2-0 Bucs.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2010 Team Needs

As part of our 2010 NFL Draft coverage, I will be breaking down positional needs for all 32 teams, starting in reverse alphabetical order. Next up is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Check out other team needs by clicking here.

1. Defensive Line
The Bucs have needs at every position outside of quarterback, but they’re in good shape with 10 selections in this year’s draft. Their top priority will likely be their defensive line, which has become a weakness under the new regime of Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik. If either Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy fall to them at No. 3, it’s hard envisioning a scenario where Tampa would pass on upgrading the interior of their defensive line. If both tackles are gone at that spot, then they may address their need at safety with Tennessee’s Eric Berry or hope to trade down and snag one of the defensive ends (Jason Pierre-Paul, Brandon Graham, Corey Wootten or George Selvie) that would be available later in the first round. But no matter how things shake out for them at No. 3, the Bus will attempt to upgrade their defensive line on draft day.

Outside Linebacker
Upgrading the strongside linebacker position is one of the Bucs’ top priorities this offseason and now that Geno Hayes (who had a breakout season last year) will be sidelined for 3-4 months after undergoing surgery in late January to repair a torn labrum, weakside may need to be addressed as well. Tampa signed Angelo Crowell to a one-year contract last offseason, but the deal blew up in Dominik’s (who overpaid) face after the oft-injured linebacker missed the entire 2009 season when he tore one of his biceps in August. It’s doubtful the Bucs bring him back seeing as how he can’t stay on the field and was plummeting past Quincy Black and Adam Hayward on the depth chart before being placed on IR. Black is adequate, but the Bucs need more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball and could use one of their early round selections to beef up the strongside position.

3. Safety
Tanard Jackson is entrenched as the starter at free safety, but the strong safety position definitely needs to be addressed this offseason. Sabby Piscitelli proved that he’s a liability in coverage and quite frankly, he wasn’t that great against the run either (which was supposed to be his forte). Bringing back 31-year-old, injury-prone Jermaine Phillips isn’t the answer, so taking a player like Berry at No. 3 makes sense. The question is, will Tampa take Suh or McCoy if either of them fell at that spot? Good safeties are hard to find in the draft, but Suh and McCoy are two prospects that have the potential to anchor a line for years to come. Either way, the safety position opposite Jackson must be addressed.

Cornerback, receiver, running back, guard and offensive tackle are needs for the Bucs this offseason as well.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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