January 16, 2013

Vincent Jackson's historic year lands him in third NFL Pro Bowl

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FOX NFL Sunday: Vincent Jackson (Jan. 2, 2013) 

By SCOTT WARD
UNCBears.com

GREELEY -- Former Northern Colorado wide receiver Vincent Jackson started the 2012 NFL season in a new place. But he's ending it in a familiar one—the Pro Bowl. 

Jackson set career highs with 72 catches and 1,384 receiving yards this season and caught eight touchdowns in his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after spending the previous seven years with the San Diego Chargers. 

Those numbers earned him a third Pro Bowl selection yesterday when the NFL announced he would be taking the spot of Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions), who will miss the annual all-star contest with an undisclosed injury. 

Jackson previously played in the Pro Bowl following the 2009 and 2011 seasons and is the third player in Northern Colorado history to earn an NFL all-star nod, joining quarterback Bill Kenney (1983) and defensive end Aaron Smith (2004). 

Brandon Marshall (Chicago Bears), Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons) and Victor Cruz (New York Giants) will join Jackson on this years' NFC's Pro Bowl roster. The game will be played at 7 p.m. ET Jan. 27 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu and will be broadcast nationally on NBC. 

Jackson, who's originally from Colorado Springs and played for Northern Colorado from 2001 to 2004, was a second-round selection in the 2005 NFL Draft and quickly became one of the NFL's most dynamic pass-catchers. 

He was the Buccaneers' prize catch in free agency last March and took only one season in the NFC to establish himself as a Pro Bowler. 

Jackson's impact in Tampa Bay and in the NFC was nearly unprecedented. He and the Bears' Brandon Marshall, who was traded from Miami to Chicago last offseason, are the first two receivers since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to make the Pro Bowl for both the AFC and the NFC in back-to-back seasons. 

Jackson's third Pro Bowl berth is well-deserved.  

Stepping immediately into the No. 1 receiver role in the Bucs' offense, he led the entire NFL with an average of 19.2 yards per catch and was third in the NFC in total yards, behind only the record-setting Johnson (1,964) and Marshall (1,508). In the Bucs' game against New Orleans on Oct. 21, Jackson set a Tampa Bay single-game franchise record with 216 receiving yards. 

Jackson is just the fourth Buccaneer wide receiver to earn a spot in the Pro Bowl and the first since Keenan McCardell was selected in 2003. Jackson's final yardage total was the second-best mark in franchise history, just behind the 1,422 that sent Mark Carrier to the Pro Bowl in 1989. 

Keyshawn Johnson also played in the league's all-star game following the 2011 campaign. 

Jackson caught four passes for 64 yards in last year's Pro Bowl, when he represented the Chargers, and he also added a seven-yard rush in the AFC's 59-41 win. In his first all-star game, following the 2009 season, Jackson led all players with seven catches for 122 yards and scored on a 48-yard pass from David Garrard in the AFC's 41-34 win.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Communications office contributed to this story.