With the Atlanta Falcons heading into training camp, there is no doubt the team has plenty of pressure on them to perform in 2013. It starts now.
Having arguably the most potent offense in the NFL at times, the Falcons added veteran running back Steven Jackson in the early stage of the offseason as he came over from the St. Louis Rams. Jackson played nine seasons with the Rams before entering free agency with the idea he will finally be leaving St. Louis.
The Falcons already have an exciting young back in Jacquizz Rodgers, who was featured as part of the back field last year along with the now-departed Michael Turner. With Rodgers pushing for more time, it looks like they will try to keep him and Jackson in the rotating back field in order to keep both them and the offensive looks fresh.
Jackson has now ran for over 1,000 yards in eight straight seasons, despite the occasional minor injuries. He’s fought through a few lingering issues over the years and has proven to be one of the most consistent running backs of the past decade.
Assuming the Falcons can use him correctly and limit his carries to around 12-16 per game, Jackson will be an efficient part of what they do. Jackson should also give Atlanta a huge boost in the screen game.
During training camp, I will be watching for how Jackson has gelled with the offense and how he responds to a new team. He’s in a new environment for the first time in his career, and you wonder whether or not that will give him a brand new outlook on his football career.
Playing nine seasons with one team and coming into a new situation will likely give Jackson a new motivation, especially now that he’s part of such a formidable offense, featuring several Pro Bowlers like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez.
I would venture to say that Jackson will be one of the hardest working guys during training camp because of this different perspective on motivation. Not to say he hasn’t been motivated in past seasons, that’d be foolish to think. He possesses one of the toughest work ethics in the game.
But, being surrounded by so much talent and having such a strong hunger to win a Super Bowl is going to turn the clocks back a couple of years and I think we will see a guy who is inspired more than ever. Watch Jackson closely during camp, as again, he will be one of the hardest workers on the field.