History tells us that an NFL running back has a short shelf life. That once they hit that dreaded age of 30, it’s all downhill from there. The Atlanta Falcons new running back Steven Jackson is fully aware of that, and has every intention of “proving statistics wrong.”
The first thing teams said when my agent was calling around the league was that I was 30-years-old,” Jackson said. “That’s a hard thing, accepting and acknowledging that. I want to take great pride in changing that thinking. How can I do it? It’s going to be hard. But if I can continue to play at a high level, it’s going to be better for the guys coming behind me. Very few backs have gone through the abuse my body has taken. If I can continue to play at a high level for three or four more years, then that will speak for itself. It will show it can be done.”
… The gluten-free helps with inflammation,” Jackson said. “It’s something I researched. I talked to a lot of the veteran guys and they said the thing that impacted them most late in their careers wasn’t the ability to keep playing, but the ability to get over the hits and play the next week. That’s why I am changing some things. I know my metabolism slows down when I turn 30. I won’t get over the aches and pains as fast.”
“You have to continue to evolve or you will be left behind,” Jackson said. “The machine of the NFL doesn’t like people to buck against it. So you have to find your niche and exploit it. I went from the being the heir to Marshall Faulk, learning how to run routes, and then had to transform to being a bruiser to now being able to combine the two.”
Fortunately, Jackson is in the ideal position to break the mold. For the first time in his career he won’t be expected to produce as an absolute workhorse and should quickly find a great role catching out of the backfield in one of the league’s premiere passing attacks.
Matt Ryan spoke on Jackson’s outstanding ability in the passing game, saying “You’re throwing routes to him, and he’s the size of Julio Jones and he’s a running back. He has such soft hands too.”
It’s worth noting that Jackson caught 90 passes for 806 yards for the Rams in 2007. For an average of nine yards per reception and three touchdowns. It might not be totally out of the question to see him regain that form this season.
He’ll also receive considerably less punishment in the running game, as the Falcons ability to spread the field will give him opportunities to thrive off draws. It should also keep him fresh to capitalize on the red-zone carries the Falcons faltered on so often last season.
Jackson will turn 30-years-old next month.