Action Jackson poses big threat

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

Marc Calixte knows the importance of taking action against Tristan Jackson.

With the Edmonton Eskimos return man, it's shut him down fast before he gets his wheels turning too quickly for the Calgary Stampeders.

Or he can swiftly become a game-breaker.

"He's very good," said Stamps special-teammer Calixte, who's very good himself at taking down opposition returners. "Tristan Jackson's one of the best I've ever seen."

But seeing him doesn't guarantee a take-down.

Calixte and the Stampeders know a pack mentality is needed to stop -- or at least slow down -- No. 38 of the rival Green and Gold from playing a huge roll in tonight's fourth installment of the Battle of Alberta at McMahon Stadium.

"He is just looking for the seam and to hit it as fast as he can," said Calixte, who leads the Stamps in special-teams tackles with 17. "What we try to do as a unit is just basically try to reel Jackson in. He's not a guy that's easy to just tackle one-on-one. He's somebody that you got to get surrounded -- you've got to make him stutter his feet and then wait for the calvary to help you."

If not, then Jackson will hurt the Stampeders.

The proof is in the statistics.

The 5-foot-8, 185 lb. Mississippi native leads the CFL this season in yardage in both punt- and kick-return categories.

On 55 kickoff runbacks, Jackson has 1,150 yards for a 20.9-yard average.

And he has 737 yards and one touchdown on 68 punt returns. That's good enough for a solid 10.8-yard average per return.

Jackson's also returned five missed field-goals for 142 yards for a 28.4-yard average.

As a CFL rookie last year, after a stellar career with the Central Arkansas Bears, he finished tops in the league with 79 punt returns for 809 yards and two TDs and had 35 kick runbacks for 839 yards and one major.

"With this guy, you have to prepare extra for him," Calixte said. "He's a quality player -- he makes outstanding plays, so you have to be ready for him and you have to prepare for him.

"We cannot take him lightly."

The last time the Alberta rivals tangled, in a 35-34 thriller Sept. 11 won by the Stamps in the Labour Day Replay in Edmonton, Jackson was especially solid on punt returns, taking five back a combined 108 yards for a 21.6-yard average.

"No question he's a handful," said Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel. "Anytime you're kicking the ball to him, you're very concerned. You need great coverage and you need great discipline in that coverage, and you need to do it for 60 minutes.

"Anytime you play Edmonton, he's a big part of their game plan."

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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