Prior to training camp opening up, Steven Jackson declared the 2013 season a fluke and promised to return back to his old 1,000-yard self in 2014. However, with less than a week until the season begins, Jackson has made zero progress on achieving that goal. His debut season with the Atlanta Falcons failed to develop into anything productive, but an early hamstring injury might prevent the 2014 season from looking any better.
Jackson has not been seen since the first day of training camp this season. The running back injured his hamstring and was immediately ruled out for the entire preseason. That was not exactly how the veteran envisioned his 2014 season kicking off and certainly not how the Falcons saw things taking place either. In need of a big bounce-back season, Atlanta was counting on Jackson making progress in his second year. After rehabbing for the last month, Jackson declares himself healthy and ready to start against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
"I'm extremely excited for Week 1," Jackson said, via the team's website. "It's been a training camp that I missed the majority of the time, but I've been working hard physically and mentally to prepare for this coming Sunday; I feel good about it. I think Marty and his training staff are the best in the NFL. They've shown, time after time, not only with myself, but with the other guys here, that when we return to the field, we're able to play with the type of capabilities that we had before the injury."
Jackson has a very impressive resume to his name which is why the Falcons signed him in the first place. He has put up 2,533 carries for 10,681 yards in 10 seasons, which includes eight-straight 1,000-yard seasons to his name spanning from 2005 to 2012. However, in 2013 he only put up 543 yards and six touchdowns while being hampered by injuries. After letting go of Michael Turner, the Falcons needed more. The inconsistent play caused the team to draft Devonta Freeman out of FSU who has been making a name for himself in the absence of Jackson.
The Falcons have not announced a starting running back for Week 1. Jacquizz Rodgers got the start in the preseason while Freeman put up the better stats. If Jackson is healthy like he states he is, he will likely get the start based off veteran experience alone. However, fantasy owners should take note that Freeman is predicted to be a fantasy sleeper pick heading into the year. The rookie has proved himself to be an extremely versatile back and could put up impressive numbers in the RB2 slot.