MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Tarvaris Jackson has tried to tune out all the chatter about Minnesota’s quarterback situation this offseason, but he can’t make a clean escape.

The latest opinion came from teammate and defensive tackle Pat Williams, who in a recent radio interview urged Jackson to work harder – reiterating a challenge he’s issued to him often.

“This ain’t college no more. This is the NFL. You have to put in more time than you are used to putting in,” Williams told the Sirius satellite radio network. “If you’re putting in four hours, you have to put in eight. You have to put in more time than what he’s doing. I think if he puts the right time in, he will be a great quarterback in the league.”

Asked about that after a community outreach event on Wednesday afternoon, Jackson expressed disappointment in the publicity. He defended his work ethic, but also acknowledged that he’ll “try to turn it up a notch” this summer.

“Like he said, maybe I do have to put extra time in,” Jackson said. “I guess when you’re not doing as well, you’ve got to put the extra time in. But I feel like I’m working hard. I’ve always been a hard worker.”

Jackson said he’d address the matter with Williams soon, though he didn’t sound too offended. He’s endured plenty of struggles through three years in the NFL already, so he’s used to answering such criticism.

“If I play better, I won’t have to answer all these questions all the time,” Jackson said.

Well, they likely won’t end until September, at the earliest.

Jackson’s productive performance at the end of the 2008 season was negated by a shaky showing in Minnesota’s first-round playoff loss at home to Philadelphia.

The Vikings traded for Sage Rosenfels to create a two-way competition, then began talking to Brett Favre about his interest in un-retiring again. Favre’s status is still uncertain, leaving Jackson – and Rosenfels – without clarity.

“Obviously you want to play,” Jackson said, “but if he does come, I’ve just got to take it for what it’s worth and just try to learn.”

Jackson doesn’t lack support, though.

Another outspoken teammate, defensive end Ray Edwards, boldly endorsed him. Forget Favre, Edwards said. Forget Rosenfels, too, he said. Jackson is his preference.

“I believe he’s the better quarterback,” Edwards said. “He’s proven himself in the league. Sage has proven himself also, but to me Tarvaris is the more mobile quarterback that can make plays happen.”

Drafted the same year as Jackson by the Vikings, Edwards acknowledged a bias toward his friend. But he insisted his evaluation is honest, and encouraged Jackson to keep his confidence.

“Just go out there and just be yourself and make plays happen, and everybody will forget about Favre,” Edwards said.

Edwards and Jackson appeared at a Minneapolis elementary school for a partnership between the Vikings and two local food bank organizations to help provide up to 200,000 extra meals for children this summer when access to free or reduced-price lunches ends with the school year.

The team has pledged $92,000 toward the effort, which is building off a national government program of similar nature. It’s inspiring to Edwards, who had a challenging childhood in Cincinnati.

“I used to be one of these kids. I grew up on free lunch and reduced lunch and things like that. I had to take advantage of it growing up, because in a single-parent home there was not a lot of food to go around as a growing boy,” he said, adding: “If you’re hungry, you start doing things that you wouldn’t normally do. I believe if you’ve got a full stomach, kids start being more productive.”

AP-ES-05-27-09 2007EDT

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