Jackson, Run Game Heat Up Against Ravens

Jackson, Run Game Heat Up Against Ravens

Jay Adams

Published August 16, 2013 at 1:41 AM

The Falcons have shifted in recent years to throwing the ball more, what with Pro Bowl wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, and future Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez in the mix offensively.

But, clearly, the pickup of Steven Jackson in the offseason was a significant sign that the Falcons see the run game as important, too.

Falcons fans haven’t truly seen what Jackson can and will do in this offense, as the preseason rarely serves up a realistic view of a nine-year veteran’s true potential within a new system, but it was encouraging to see Jackson and the running game move efficiently against the Ravens on Thursday night.

“Having success (Thursday night) is great for our confidence,” Jackson said after the 27-23 loss. “We feel we have the potential to run the ball well every week. The key is to keep getting better. Every preseason game presents a different challenge and a chance to improve. After (Thursday), we can work on what we need to.”

With Jackson chipping in 42 yards on eight carries, the Falcons finished with 170 total rushing yards — almost double their output against the Bengals in the first week of the preseason.

The offensive line played a huge role in that. Things got off to a shaky start with procedure penalties, but once the line settled in, the unit opened holes for its running backs, and Jackson showed a few hints of what fans may be able to expect this season.

But he wasn’t alone. Josh Vaughan, who spent last season on the practice squad with the Falcons, showed a nice burst, racking up 44 hard-fought yards on five carries. Jacquizz Rodgers chipped in with 28 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown.

Jackson as the centerpiece to the entire running game, however, is what is going to be seen most often once the regular season comes along, so head coach Mike Smith was happy to see things get going with Jackson in the ballgame.

“Running the football, (Jackson) was really effective,” Smith said. “Catching the ball out of the backfield he was effective, and he had some holes to run through. Our offensive line opened up some stuff in the run game and he hit it. It’s good to see. I know he’s a great player, and he’s going to add a lot to our offense.”

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