Buffalo Bills: Fred Jackson makes his point against the Steelers


Fred Jackson shows the Buffalo Bills he still has plenty left in the tank

With the exception of the ongoing quarterback competition, the Buffalo Bills game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was a meaningless contest in many respects. Just don’t tell that to Fred Jackson.

For Jackson, this game meant everything. Look no further than his celebration, after opening the scoring in the first quarter.

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The running back’s reaction spoke volumes, after his one yard touchdown run. He clenched his fists and looked up to the skies, much to the delight of the fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

You have to imagine Jackson’s celebration was almost as much out of relief as delight, having had to contend with so much in recent months. With everything from rumors that his roster spot was not safe, to dealing with a hamstring injury, he’s had a lot on his plate.

Jackson alluded to this, while talking to Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News, after the Steelers game: “I still have a lot to prove and that’s how I approach the game.

“Just continue to prove yourself. Today was a good step in the right direction.”

A lot of people wondered if the 34-year old’s time in Buffalo was over, after averaging a career-low 3.7 yards per carry last season. This perception was ludicrous for so many reasons.

Aug 29, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson (22) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

For a start, Jackson also set career highs for receptions and receiving yards in 2014. Yes, his main job is to run the ball, but 1,000+ total offensive yards has to count for something. (And keep in mind, he also missed two games.)

Secondly, the Bills running game suffered as a whole last season, finishing 25th in the league. No matter how good a runner is meant to be, you need some help from the offensive line, and the Bills were sadly lacking in this area during 2014.

(Fortunately, Buffalo’s offensive line should play better this year. Signing Richie Incognito and drafting John Miller will certainly help.)

For his part, the Fort Worth, Texas native takes it all in his stride, as he told Dunne: “It’s one of those things where you constantly have to show up and prove yourself.”

Encouragingly, Jackson looked fresh, as evidenced by a 41-yard run on his first carry of the day (and indeed the preseason): “To be able to go out on the first play and get a big run and finish off with a touchdown is something that I wanted to do.”

In an ironic twist, the 2009 NFL All Purpose Yards leader could well be the starter for the home opener against the Indianapolis Colts. While the Bills remain cautiously optimistic about LeSean McCoy, there is an increasingly suspicion he may not be ready in time for the beginning of the regular season.

Jackson said: “I always prepare as the starter. Shady’s going to work to get himself back out there on the field, but I think if you don’t prepare to be the starter something’s wrong with you.”

With the current batch of injuries in the backfield, it’s good to know there is always one constant for Buffalo. Come rains or shine, come wind or snow, you can always rely on Jackson.

Next: Will Stephon Gilmore be ready for the home opener?

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