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Updated: October 25th, 2010 4:21pm
Tarvaris Jackson says he's ready if needed: 'It's the best I've ever felt'

Tarvaris Jackson says he's ready if needed: 'It's the best I've ever felt'

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It could take all the way up until Sunday afternoon to know whether Brett Favre will overcome two foot fractures to extend his record consecutive-starts streak at New England.

But if the Minnesota Vikings' 41-year-old quarterback can't make start No. 316, backup Tarvaris Jackson says he'll be ready.

"Best I've ever felt," Jackson said on Monday. "Hopefully, it translates to the field, but it's the best I've ever felt since I've been in the league."

Jackson, 27, hasn't played in a regular-season game since Jan. 3, when he completed 4 of 6 passes for 42 yards in mop-up duty against the New York Giants.

He hasn't started a game since Jan. 4, 2008, when he was a miserable 15-of-35 for 164 yards with an interception and 45.4 passer rating in a wild-card playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

However, Favre's unique situation -- a 20-year veteran who doesn't come to training camp and needs his throws limited during most practice weeks -- means Jackson has continued to get plenty of time with the No. 1 offense.

"We've seen it all of training camp," defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "He was having the greatest camp, I think, of his career so far. So, we've got nothing but the utmost confidence in him. I think if he has to go out and play -- I don't doubt him any."

A second-round draft pick (64th overall) in 2006, Jackson had a 10-9 record as a starter before Favre's August 2009 arrival ended his tenure atop the depth chart. Sage Rosenfels outplayed Jackson in the preseason this year but was traded to the New York Giants on Sept. 3, ensuring Jackson would be the next man in if something happened to Favre.

"He's going to make good decisions, man," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "The whirlwind calmed down for him, it feels like. I have confidence in him, 100 percent if he has to be the starter."

For all of Favre's superior traits and experience, one thing Jackson would add to the Vikings offense is mobility. In 33 career games, he's rushed for 472 yards and four touchdowns.

In Favre's 22 regular-season games with the Vikings, he's carried 16 times for 6 yards -- and now has a significant lower-body injury that won't exactly speed him up.

"That's part of my game," Jackson said. "I'm not saying that that's what we need for the team or the offense to be better. But I feel like that's part of my game and I'm going to add that dimension to the offense."

That he hasn't seen meaningful game action in 22 months -- and that the organization and several high-profile teammates begged Favre to return in August -- apparently hasn't hurt Jackson's confidence.

"That's the main point -- confidence," Jackson said. "I'm just going to say (earlier in his career) I knew what I was doing, but I wasn't very confident, just by all the external factors. ... Now, I'm playing football."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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