Through the first month of the 2010 season Fred Jackson did a lot of thinking as he saw his role dramatically reduced from what it was in 2009. He wondered about his future with the Bills and whether he'd ever have the opportunity again to be a lead back. That answer was provided with the trade of Marshawn Lynch to Seattle on Tuesday.
With Lynch no longer on the roster, the rushing load falls to Jackson and rookie C.J. Spiller.
"It's one of those things that I'm excited about," said Jackson. "It's a chance for me to go out and try and prove myself again. I think they're showing a lot of faith in me if I do get a chance to go out there and be the number one back. I don't want to let them down."
Jackson did anything but last season for the Bills. Behind an offensive line that underwent constant change due to injury in 2009, all Jackson did was lead the NFL with 2,516 combined yards, good for the fourth most in NFL history.
Most important in that total were the 1,062 rushing yards that came at an average of 4.5 per carry.
Though it's not clear what Chan Gailey's position will be as to how the workload will be divided between Jackson and Spiller moving forward, it's safe to say that Jackson's role will be noticeably larger than it has been in the season's first four weeks when he averaged five carries per game.
Jackson has taken the hard road to the NFL, from Division III prospect to the Continental Indoor Football League to NFL Europe, the Bills practice squad and finally the active roster. That's why when Lynch was seeing the majority of the work through the first month of the season Jackson wondered if it were his days with the Bills were numbered.
"I think any time you're not getting on the field you've got to start questioning what your role is here," he said. "Not getting on the field I was obviously starting to think that they were maybe going to go in a different direction and use Marshawn and C.J. more. I'm not going to say that it didn't cross my mind. It did. And that was fine if that was the direction they wanted to go in I was perfectly okay with that. Fortunately for me that isn't the case now so now I have to go out and try to make some plays as much as possible."
Jackson doesn't anticipate that much will change with the running game now that he and Spiller will be the main ball carriers, but believes anything is possible with coach Gailey.
With it just being Spiller and himself, Jackson believes their relationship will develop further, though the rookie has leaned on Jackson heavily for pointers already.
"I just got off the phone with him and he heard the news (about Lynch) and I told him that now it's our job to go out and try and get this thing turned around," said Jackson. "I think we'll develop a great relationship. We already have a good relationship to where any time he needs something he can come to me and hopefully I can help him progress in his career as much as possible. He knows that. He knows he can give me a call whenever he needs to."
More than anything though Jackson just wants to get back to the grind as he's determined to change Buffalo's offensive fortunes for the better.
"I'm going to go out there and do my best and try to help get this thing turned around," he said. "I know there is going to be a lot on my back to get this thing headed the right way as much as possible."