A need for speed

JOHN SHORT -- For Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

Perhaps without intending it, Danny Maciocia gave import Tristan Jackson some major encouragement yesterday.

Asked what he had learned during the Eskimos' thumping by Calgary in the first preseason game, the head coach's first words came quickly.

"Well, I know we've got a kick returner," he said. "Obviously the return (for a touchdown against Calgary) helped him" in the battle for a spot on the Eskimos' roster.

Even so, Maciocia refused to be specific.

Pointing out that thousands of offensive plays go into a season for every CFL team, he insisted it would be foolish to make any serious roster decision on one big play.

Several times since Jackson's spectacular return for his first-ever CFL touchdown, the coach has gone into raptures describing the speed generated by the 22-year-old product of Central Arkansas University.

"He has two speeds, one to get through the hole and the other to create separation. He has the ability to set things up ... be patient with his blocking."

Maciocia also saw major potential for Jackson as a defensive back. The name of long-time Eskimo star Malcolm Frank, a sometimes-brilliant defensive back, came up by way of comparison: "A blue-collar mentality ... can help us."

Raised in Beaumont, Miss., the soft-spoken Jackson praised his special-team partners for the touchdown. "I had a lot of great blocks and I hit the hole."

He said he has no idea how fast he was going when he stepped into overdrive or what his top speed is.

"I've never been timed in the 100 (yard-dash) but I think my time for the 40 was 4.46 or something like that."

In high school, he ran 200 metres competitively but couldn't remember his best time at the distance.

A religious youngster who said he misses his parents, Jackson's bicep carries a message of faith. In part, it says ... "I can do all things through Christ."

Before he reached Edmonton, he had no idea that the field was so large or that a defensive back can be attacked by so many receivers who get into motion before the snap.

He realized Canada could be "a little cold" but more than that his knowledge was scanty.

"I've got great coaches," he smiled, adding softly that "I can learn."

His mom is a hairdresser back home and his dad sells cars for a living.

"They've looked after me ... and I want to look after them," Jackson said.


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