Redskins

Jackson putting up career numbers with Buccaneers

Jackson putting up career numbers with Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) In what's been a roller coaster season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, receiver Vincent Jackson has been a model of consistency and quietly put together one of the best seasons of his career.

The ninth-year pro leads the Bucs with 69 receptions for 1,334 yards and eight touchdowns and has been everything the team envisioned they were getting when he signed a five-year, $55.55 million contract as a free agent after spending eight years with the San Diego Chargers.

Jackson had his fifth 100-yard game of the season during Sunday's 28-13 loss to the St. Louis Rams and has already set career bests for receptions and yards in a season. He had his first 200-yard game in a win over Kansas City, and he's averaging a NFL-best 19.3 yards per catch.

The Bucs (6-9) will take a five-game losing streak into Sunday's season finale at Atlanta. Quarterback Josh Freeman has struggled during the skid, yet primarily because of the impact Jackson has had on the Tampa Bay offense, the fourth-year pro only needs 157 yards against the Falcons to become the franchise's first 4,000-yard passer.

Jackson's contract was done in all 5's in honor of Freeman, who wears jersey No. 5. In addition to giving the Bucs the first legitimate deep threat in more than a decade, the 29-year-old has helped third-year receiver Mike Williams rebound from a subpar 2011.

``I couldn't be happier to be here,'' Jackson said, adding that it didn't take him long to decide to sign with the Bucs following a short conversation with first-year coach Greg Schiano when the free agency period began last March.

``It only took about five minutes. Learning his mentality, his approach to the game, what he saw my role to be, being leader kind of guy with my work ethic, just the way he wanted this organization to change,'' Jackson said. ``Not just the players but an entire organization, the city and way the league views this team. It's fun to play for a guy like that. Everybody in this locker room has bought into it.''

Williams had seven receptions for 132 yards and scored Tampa Bay's only touchdown on a 61-yard catch-and-run against the Rams. His production slipped a year ago following a standout rookie year, however he's benefited from Jackson's presence and enters Sunday's finale with 57 catches for career bests of 931 yards and 16.3 yards per reception.

``My role is to do what I've always done. ... Obviously, guys kind of feed off the things I do,'' Jackson said. ``I try to be a professional at all times. Just sharing knowledge. We call it being farmers. You can't grow good corn if your neighbors don't grow good corn. I want everybody around me to be successful.''

Rookie Doug Martin has rushed for 1,321 yards and 10 touchdowns and is third in the league in total yards from scrimmage behind Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson.

Nevertheless, the Bucs will miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

Jackson, who had seven receptions for 108 yards, thinks the team is headed in the right direction.

A four-game winning streak helped the Bucs overcome a 1-3 start to climb back into contention for a postseason berth at 6-4. But mounting injuries, Freeman's inconsistency and a porous pass defense have taken their toll during their current skid.

There's been no letup in Jackson's game, though. He has 27 catches for 451 yards, including a pair of 100-yard performances, over the past five weeks to move within 69 yards of breaking Mark Carrier's 23-year-old franchise single-season record of 1,422 yards.

``I'm happy to contribute the way I have. I still think this offense has some things we haven't completely executed as well as we could have in all different areas,'' Jackson said.

``But we have great talent ... as far as offense goes. Tight ends, running backs, obviously Josh. For me to step in here, there's a lot of great tools around me that allow me to be successful,'' the 6-foot-5, 230-pound receiver added. ``For me, I just have to go out there, continue to work as hard as I work, have fun, enjoy it and we'll see how the season ends. Right now, it's about wins.''

Coaches and teammates rave about the receiver's work ethic and way he leads by example.

``He's been such an impact player for us. First by his performance on the field, plays he has made, the consistency, his professionalism, and the versatility,'' offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. ``There is a complete physical presence, a dominant physical presence. He's a leader, part of the solution. We're very fortunate to have him.''

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Chris Cooley remembers mostly positive reaction to Redskins' name from Native Americans

Chris Cooley remembers mostly positive reaction to Redskins' name from Native Americans

With the Washington Redskins' name change dominating headlines across the sports world, former players have been asked a multitude of questions to get their thoughts on the team's controversial nickname.

One of those has been, "Do you remember people having a problem with the name while you were on the team?"

The answers have, of course, been mixed. Santana Moss told NBC Sports Washington's Matt Weyrich that he first noticed a problem years into his Washington tenure getting off the team bus in Seattle, while Brian Mitchell has said he's been dealing with the negative reaction around the name since the start of his career in 1990.

On Thursday, former Washington tight end Chris Cooley joined the Kevin Sheehan show on The Team 980 and described his unique experience receiving feedback from Native Americans on the team's name.

"It's probably time to change the name, and we're in that world where you can change it, but it doesn't mean that I believe it had anything to do with anything racial. It didn't," Cooley said. "Guys I played for didn't believe that, over 75 tribes that I traveled to didn't feel that way six years ago when I went to those reservations and 30 or 40 more that I went to by myself.

"You know what, it's completely fine if you change your mind on something like that," Cooley said. "And I'll be all for it, but when I was with the Washington Redskins I don't believe anybody felt it was a racially driven name."

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Cooley traveled to several reservations across the country to gain an understanding of a culture his former team's likeness was representing. Instead of having to tie his opinion to polls and other methods for gathering a group of people's opinion, he got his information straight from the source.

"The overwhelming majority was, 'Don't forget us,' 'Don't care,' 'That's fine but I'm a Cowboys fan,'" Cooley said. "It was just a conversation that was had very comfortably."

Cooley emphasized going to reservations alone in order to get honest answers from its residents. If he were there with the Redskins in a larger group, he feared he wouldn't get the same feedback as if he were alone. Ultimately, after speaking to hundreds of Native Americans, the Wyoming native got a similar response to his questions.

RELATED: NEW NAME REPORTEDLY WON'T INCLUDE NATIVE AMERICAN IMAGERY

"We would go to casinos, we would go to rodeos, and [I'd] ask them like 'Hey how do you feel about the Redskins' name?'" he said. "People would tell us, and it was more than 9-to-1 that felt positively about it, at least on the trips that I went."

However, as Cooley acknowledged, people can and are allowed to change their minds. The response a few years ago may have been positive, but that may not be the case anymore. 

According to a report from the Associated Press, more than a dozen Native American groups sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking the league to force Washington to change its name. 

So, in the end, Cooley isn't going to be "an old man on the front porch" as he called it, and push against change just to keep things the way they were. 

"Times change with people and all I'm saying is I don't feel like in my time there it was ever racially driven," he said. "But I'm also not going to sit here argue for it. If people want it changed then let's change it."

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Redskins assistant coach witnessed former Raider Barret Robbins' early mental-health issues

Redskins assistant coach witnessed former Raider Barret Robbins' early mental-health issues

Sports Uncovered is a six-part weekly podcast series that explores the stories that took the national sports world by storm. The newest episode, The Mysterious Disappearance That Changed A Super Bowl, dives into how Oakland Raiders star center Barret Robbins missed Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 after 24 hours of partying. 

Barret Robbins was just a junior at Texas Christian when his manic episodes began. 

A potent mixture of steroids, alcohol and marijuana left the future NFL offensive lineman in a daze. It felt like he was sleepwalking. Driving to Austin from his school in Fort Worth, not really knowing what he was doing, seeking some level of attention, he smashed the window of a car dealership. 

Robbins had no intention of taking anything. But it looked like he was trying to burglarize the place. So, Austin police arrested him. It was so out of character, his TCU coaches, including current Redskins tight ends coach Pete Hoener, weren’t sure what to make of the episode. 

“My first inclination on something like that with him was ‘Man, he must have been really drunk,’” Hoener told NBC Sports Bay Area for the sixth episode of NBC’s Sports Uncovered podcast. “You know, been with the wrong person or something.”

Robbins went to jail and then to rehab before being allowed to play his senior year at TCU. But it was the beginning of a descent that continued long after Robbins failed to post for the Raiders’ appearance in the Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. 

The latest Sports Uncovered podcast by NBC Sports takes a look at Robbins' infamous Super Bowl disappearance and what has happened to him since then. Listen to the full episode below or by subscribing wherever you get your podcasts:

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Who knows if the outcome would have changed? Oakland lost 48-21. But Robbins’ life has never been the same. One of the best offensive linemen in football was out of the NFL by 2004 and left alone to deal with the depression and bipolar disorder that plagued him since college. 

The incident at the car dealership led to a diagnosis of depression by the TCU medical staff. Robbins’ story is difficult to listen to. He spoke with NBC Sports Bay Area for a 2011 interview that serves as the basis for the podcast, but otherwise few know his whereabouts now, including his former Raiders teammates. 

Robbins told NBC Sports Bay Area he likely had episodes before that one in college. But nothing where he ended up in trouble. It wouldn’t stay that way. He managed a nine-year career in the NFL before things fell apart. 

That saddens Hoener, who left TCU in 1997 and has spent the past 20 years as an assistant in the NFL, including nine with Rivera on the Carolina Panthers’ coaching staff and again this season with the Redskins. 

Hoener knew Robbins when he was just a teenager. The answer when odd things happened to a player back then was he must be drinking too much. Robbins just didn’t have the same support system that would be in place today for players at almost any level of football. Mental health is treated so much differently now. It might have made a difference for Robbins. 

“I think the thing that’s come of all this is there’s much better communication now with the medical staff and psychologists,” Hoener said. “And everybody up through the college level – maybe even the high school level – up through our level. So that a lot of those things don’t slip through.”

Want more Sports Uncovered? Check out Sean Taylor, the NFL superstar we didn't get to know, also part of the Sports Uncovered podcast series.

To never miss an episode, subscribe to Sports Uncovered and get every episode automatically downloaded to your phone. Sports Uncovered is also available on the MyTeams app, as well as on every major podcasting platform: AppleGoogle PodcastiHeartStitcherSpotify, and TuneIn

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