Timing of Tanard Jackson’s potential reinstatement problematic for Redskins

August 15, 2013

Tanard Jackson, right, during last season’s training camp, with Brandon Meriweather, left, and DeAngelo Hall. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — The season-ending foot injury suffered by rookie Phillip Thomas during last week’s preseason opener could create a bit more of a need in the Washington Redskins’ secondary for suspended safety Tanard Jackson. But it remains unclear when Jackson might be reinstated or if there is any realistic chance that he could work his way into the Redskins’ plans thereafter.

Jackson is serving an indefinite suspension by the NFL for violating the sport’s substance abuse policy. He is eligible for reinstatement by the league beginning Aug. 31. He remains under contract to the Redskins. Under league rules, his one-year contract rolled over into this season when he was suspended for all of last season.

The Redskins entered last season with plans for Jackson and Brandon Meriweather to be their starters at safety. But Jackson was suspended and Meriweather played in only one game due to a series of knee injuries, and struggles at safety contributed mightily to the Redskins being ranked 30th in the league in pass defense.

The team attempted to address the need by selecting two safeties, Thomas and Bacarri Rambo, in the NFL draft in April. The rookies started alongside one another at safety in the preseason opener last Thursday night at Tennessee. But Thomas suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot and is to miss his entire rookie season.

Thomas’s injury erodes some of the Redskins’ depth at safety and leaves them depending heavily on Meriweather to be healthy and Rambo to develop rapidly, even after being only a sixth-round pick. An experienced player like Jackson, a former starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, perhaps could provide a boost. But the timing of Jackson’s prospective reinstatement is highly problematic.

The Redskins have no way of knowing if or when Jackson might be reinstated by the league. And even if Jackson is reinstated soon after he’s eligible, he will have missed all of last season, all of the team’s offseason practices, its training camp in Richmond and the entire four-game preseason. The Redskins likely would be given a roster exemption for Jackson for some period of time if he’s reinstated. But it’s unclear whether that will give Jackson enough time to show the team that he would be ready to play in the NFL and would be a better option than someone currently on hand.

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

● Thursday’s practice is at 12:40 p.m.

● Later in the morning, we’ll check in on the Griffin-to-Garcon connection.

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo |@MarkMaske | @D3Keith @Insider |@PostSports

More NFL and Redskins:

Observations from Wednesday’s practice | Griffin back in 11-on-11 action

How Pat White made it back to the NFL after three years out of football

D.C. Sports Bog: McNabb says he was asked to contact Griffin | More Bog

The Early Lead: Portis is lead plaintiff in lawsuit against the NFL | More NFL

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Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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