Last season, Fred Jackson proved that he could handle more carries. A multi-purpose back, he carried the ball only 130 times for 571 yards in 2008 while splitting time with "Beast Mode," Marshawn Lynch.
He excelled each time he was in the game and filled in admirably in the season finale versus the Patriots, rushing for 136 yards on 27 carries even though Buffalo's dreadful offense that day couldn't put any points on the board.
According to Bills while Lynch is suspended">BuffaloBills.com, after Lynch's suspension was upheld Monday, Jackson was named the starting running back.
“Going into the season, unless something happens, it would be Freddy,” said Jauron. “Freddy would be the starter. But both (Jackson and Rhodes) will be playing a lot.”
Until this point I don't even think the Bills have known how to take full advantage of Jackson's ability. Real Bills fans saw flashes of his greatness early on watching him in the '07-'08 preseason.
Jackson is used to playing at a high level—he just hasn't always been giving the opportunity on a national stage.
Jackson's senior year at D-III Coe College in 2002 he rushed for 1,702 yards and 29 touchdowns.
After being seen as too small a player for the NFL (6'1, but only 195 lbs.), he went to play indoor football for the Sioux City Bandits where he earned $200 a week. In 2005, he was named United Indoor Football co-MVP as he ran for 1,770 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Sioux City Bandits.
Former Bills head coach Marv Levy saw his potential as a fellow Coe College alum and assigned him to NFL Europa in 2006. That year, Jackson led the Rhein Fire with 731 rushing yards and was assigned to the Bills practice squad after bulking up to 215 lbs.
He hasn't looked back since and despite battling for playing time, his level of play has increased in the past two seasons with the Bills.
The rest of the league will find out the type of player Jackson really is, while Lynch serves his suspension. Not to mention that Rhodes will take some attention off of Jackson, and the Bills offense should be far improved.
Hate to say something like this about such a great player such as Lynch, but perhaps his suspension could be a blessing in disguise; especially for Fred Jackson's career, who has developed a great friendship with Lynch in his first two seasons.
Certainly, when Beast Mode returns we can all expect him to be the starter, as he's still the feature back in the Bills offense. The Bills will have a bonafide, more experienced one-two punch (as if they didn’t last year) with two guys capable of the starting role.
Jackson, who signed a four year deal with the Bills in May, is a threat as a receiver as well. In 2008, Jackson caught 37 passes for 317 yards but only scored three TDs while rushing in Buffalo's predictable offense.
Expect Jackson to see the end zone much more this year, both as a receiver and running back for the revamped Buffalo Bills offense.