If Marshawn Lynch goes by something he calls `Beast Mode' to describe his ability to plow through defenders, perhaps it's time backup Fred Jackson got a nickname of his own.
Ha, ha. I really haven't come up with anything,'' Jackson said as the Buffalo Bills prepare to play at Arizona on Sunday.The only thing that I've seen consistently is `Action Jackson.'''
Jackson then paused before adding, ``Beast Action,'' to describe the one-two punch he and Lynch are providing the Bills running attack.
It might not be as catchy as, say, `Thunder and Lightning,' but Jackson's emergence as a capable compliment to Lynch has helped revitalize what had been a sputtering offense last year. Together, they've combined for 567 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns in helping the Bills (4-0) get off to their best start in 16 years.
``I joke with Marshawn and tell him to go out there and soften them up for me and I'll try to finish them off,'' said Jackson, whose 22-yard touchdown run in a 31-14 win against St. Louis last weekend was his first career score, and also the Bills' longest run from scrimmage this season.
I was very determined,'' Jackson said, describing how he punched his way up the middle and dived the final 3 yards into the end zone.Guys talk about how you can smell the end zone. It was in sight and I knew I wanted to get there.''
Jackson has certainly arrived.
Lynch is the workhorse, but Jackson's role is increasing in only his second NFL season.
He has 118 yards rushing on 28 carries and 11 catches for 93 yards. Jackson's best game came in helping secure Buffalo's 20-16 comeback victory at Jacksonville in Week 2, when he had a team-best 83 yards receiving and 17 yards rushing.
The Bills so much like Jackson as a dual threat that they have occasionally used both him and Lynch on the field at the same time to keep defense's guessing.
Watching him play is a treat to see,'' receiver Lee Evans said.He's a spark. He can do it all. And Marshawn can do it all, too. You put them both in the backfield and the defense has decisions to make.''
An undrafted free agent out of Division III Coe College, Jackson broke into the NFL in 2006 on the Bills practice squad. He made the Bills active roster last year, and began catching the team's attention in November when Lynch missed three games with an ankle injury and while backup Dwayne Wright struggled as an interim starter.
Jackson showed enough spark to earn a start, in which he had 82 yards rushing and 69 yards receiving in a 17-16 win at Washington.
The Lynch-Jackson connection was secured the following week when Lynch had 107 yards rushing in his first game back and Jackson added 115 yards in a 38-17 win over Miami.
That was enough for coordinator Turk Schonert to spend the offseason devising ways of getting both running backs involved.
He and Marshawn are very, very similar and it showed last year,'' Schonert said.I was real excited about having those two guys in the backfield at the same time.''
Jackson's rise was not an easy one, and a testament to his perseverance after he barely got a sniff from NFL teams following his senior year at Coe College in 2002.
The Iowa school, though, just happened to be the alma mater of former Bills coach and Hall-of-Famer Marv Levy, who became aware of Jackson's potential in the player's junior year. The two established a rapport and Levy counseled Jackson to continue playing football - even if it meant the arena leagues - to attract attention.
Jackson followed that advice, playing two seasons in Sioux City of the United Indoor Football League, and was named the league's offensive player of the year in 2005.
When Levy took over as the Bills general manager in 2006, he didn't forget about Jackson. He invited the player in for a workout, and Jackson impressed the coaches.
Coach Levy had everything to do with me getting here,'' Jackson said.He came back and he was true to his word, he gave me a shot.''
Action Jackson, though, has done the rest.