TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open the 2009 season without starting free safety Tanard Jackson, who apologized Tuesday for receiving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
"I can't really go into the details of the situation, but I can let people know that I'm obviously disappointed in decisions that I made that got me in this situation," Jackson said after practice.
"I'm definitely disappointed in myself. I let my team down ... a lot of people down," Jackson added. "The fans, I'd like to apologize to them. ... I'll be out four games, and I'm apologetic. When I come back, I'm hoping to get back on track and move on."
The third-year pro's suspension begins Sept. 5 and will continue through the Bucs' Oct. 4 game against the Washington Redskins. Jackson will be eligible to return for a Oct. 11 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Although Jackson declined to give a specific reason for the discipline, he did say the suspension "was not a shock because I knew the situation I was in."
"It was something that was before I got into this league, but it kind of lingered on," Jackson said. "... I definitely have some off-the-field issues I have to address for the well-being of myself and the well-being of this team."
A fourth-round draft pick out of Syracuse in 2007, Jackson has started every game for Tampa Bay over the past two seasons.
Citing confidentiality rules, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik declined to discuss specifics about Jackson's suspension.
"It's disappointing news," Dominik said. "... He's a good young player. It's a blow to the team."
Jackson, who has three career interceptions, can practice and play in Tampa Bay's three remaining preseason games. Sixth-year pro Will Allen will take over the free safety job while Jackson serves the suspension.
"I felt like Will played well in our (first preseason) game, but it's disappointing," Dominik said. "It's something we're going to deal with. It's something Tanard is dealing with ... and we have to move forward."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press