Many Falcons fans are anxiously awaiting the first appearance of Steven Jackson in the Falcons' offense. While training camp and the preseason creep towards us, fans may have to wait a little longer to see much of No. 39 in red and black.
While speaking with the media during May's OTAs, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter provided a hint on what to expect from Jackson during the four-game exhibition season: not a lot. The veteran enters his 10th season in the NFL and by the this point in his career, he knows how to use training camp to prepare for the regular season. A lot of touches for Jackson, according to Koetter, isn't really necessary, but he added the final decision is in head coach Mike Smith's hands.
"Steven's got a gazillion carries in his career," Koetter said. "Coach Smith will determine how many carries he gets, but I don't believe Steven Jackson needs a bunch of touches in the preseason. You can only run inside zone, outside zone so many times. He doesn't need to go out there and prove himself. Preseason is live tackling and getting your running backs beat up in the preseason, I don't see the benefit. Coach Smith will determine how many carries he gets."
Last season the Falcons followwed a similar theory to preserve their veteran running back, Michael Turner. Though Turner's moved on and Jackson is now in Atlanta, the approach this season may be similar since Jackson was present throughout OTAs and minicamp to continue to get in sync with the offense.
Turner had 18 carries in the preseason last year, an average of 4.5 per game, though he didn't play in the preseason's final game.
A lighter preseason workload isn't anything new to Jackson. He had 17 total carries last season in St. Louis and in 2011 he had 24.