Branch has high praise for Tarvaris Jackson

Buffalo Bills fans never got a chance to see Tarvaris Jackson in action last season. After being acquired by Buffalo in 2012, the journeyman spent all of last season behind former starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, who played 16 games.

Now that Fitzpatrick has been released, Jackson has an opportunity to win Buffalo's starting quarterback job later this summer. Jackson will be the underdog against Kevin Kolb, who recently signed a two-year, $13 million contract.

But new Bills defensive lineman Alan Branch, who played with Jackson in 2011 with the Seattle Seahawks, offered high praise for Jackson and says Buffalo is getting a quality quarterback.

"I'll say this: Tarvaris Jackson is one of the toughest competitors I've seen out there," Branch said in a telephone interview with the AFC East blog this week. “When he played when I was in Seattle, the guy was hurt in more than half the games and he kept playing. He had us winning games, too. We were in every single game. It’s not like we ever got blew out.

"It was a rebuilding process for Seattle. So Jackson didn’t have quite the tools Seattle had last year. But the guy is tough as nails, smart and has a cannon for an arm. Buffalo fans should definitely realize that they got some stature back there."

Jackson had a career year with Seattle in 2011. He started 14 games, went 7-7 as a starter, and threw for 3,091 yards, 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Those are decent numbers, especially if Jackson was playing injured. However, Jackson hasn't thrown a regular-season pass since.

The Bills are hoping Jackson can be the same quarterback he was two seasons ago and push Kolb in training camp this summer. Competition should only make both quarterbacks better.