Share this article

print logo

Jackson aims for 1,000-yard plateau

Fred Jackson's quest for 1,000 yards rushing is the one of the few noteworthy milestones on the line for the Buffalo Bills in Sunday's season finale.

Jackson needs 108 yards against the New York Jets to hit the 1,000 total for a second straight season.

The Bills' offensive linemen are not taking the achievement lightly.

"I'd love it for him," said Bills center Geoff Hangartner. "Last year he got it in the last game of the year, and it meant a lot to us last year. It would definitely mean a lot to us. To have back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing years is a great accomplishment. He's done everything that's been asked of him this year."

"If I could get that, it's something I definitely want," Jackson said. "I'm aware of it. Geoff and Eric [Wood] and [Andy] Levitre, all those guys have said something about it. Hopefully I can get to it. ... It's something that's attainable, but the most important thing would be for us to win, just so we could finish the season with a win, win two out of our last three games in the AFC East."

Jackson was 150 yards shy of 1,000 entering last year's finale and got 212 yards against the Indianapolis Colts to finish with 1,062.

It won't be easy to reach the milestone. The Jets have allowed just one running back to hit the 100-yard mark in their last 22 regular-season games. That came Sunday against Chicago when the Bears' Matt Forte rushed for 113. The week before, Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 99. New York ranks fifth in the NFL against the run, yielding 94.5 yards a game.

The fact Jackson has a shot at 1,000 is pretty good considering he was No. 3 in the Bills' backfield in touches through the first month of the season.

Marshawn Lynch and C.J. Spiller played bigger roles until the Week Five game against Jacksonville. Jackson had only 20 carries and 87 rushing yards through four games.

"Realistically, I didn't think it would be something I'd be able to attain just because I wasn't playing much in the beginning," Jackson said. "You really have to get a jump on those type of things. The opportunity is here. Hopefully we can go out and make something of it. If not, it's not something that would be the most devastating thing of this season."

Coach Chan Gailey said the fact Jackson broke a bone in his hand in the preseason opener was a factor in the decision to limit his chances early in the season.

"I didn't have Fred or Marshawn in preseason, so all I knew was C.J.," Gailey said on Wednesday. "That's all I saw. So we decided to go with C.J. early. Then looking at it, Marshawn had practiced well, played well, done some good things, and he got healthier faster than Fred did. So we went with Marshawn. That's how the decision was made earlier in the year. Nobody got to fight for anything in the preseason, unfortunately."

The fact Jackson has had to fight for everything he has earned in the NFL -- traveling from Coe College to indoor football to NFL Europa before joining the Bills -- is part of the reason he's so well respected among his teammates.

"He's put in his hard time," Hangartner said. "The route he took to get here and the work he's put in just to get a shot, much less be a very productive NFL running back, it makes you root for the guy. He's a humble guy, down to earth, which makes you want it for him even more."

Jackson ranks 19th in the NFL in rushing. He has the third fewest rushing attempts of any of the backs in the top 20.

"The guy is a true warrior," Gailey said. "He goes out and plays every week. He doesn't just run the football. He leads for us. He blocks for us, he does a lot of things for us, catches passes. He does a lot of things for this football team."

mgaughan@buffnews.com

There are no comments - be the first to comment