The Falcons aren't lacking players with energy, but they added one in the offseason, and during this year's OTAs he's stepped in at running back after nine years with another club and hasn't missed many beats. The Falcons are a club that leans on their veteran leaders and Steven Jackson has made himself at home.
"Steven Jackson is a guy that I think has come in and has been a leader," quarterback Matt Ryan said of Atlanta's new running back. "He really is. He's fun to play with and fun to work with. He's a guy that really cares."
When he has missed a beat through the seven practices so far during the offseason's OTA sessions, he's quickly remedied the situation with his QB, checking in occasionally away from the team's practice facilities with Ryan, one of the team's unquestioned leaders.
"He's one of the few guys that has called me when he's not here and picked my brain about certain things that we're doing and I think that says a lot about him," Ryan said.
Jackson's arrival in Atlanta means the Falcons offense becomes even more dangerous than it was last season. Jackson offers a straight-ahead running style out of the backfield, but he adds an element that gives greater versatility on offense. Jackson is one of the league's best pass-catching running backs and that element hasn't been as present in year's past with the Falcons. With Jackson as a receiver option, Ryan and the Falcons can go a lot of different places with the ball without changing drastically how the offense appears to defenses on the field.
Ryan likes Jackson's smarts and he sees a player whose veteran experience has allowed him to pick up complexities within the offense rather quickly.
"I think every day he's getting a little bit more comfortable," Ryan said. "We're for the most part an offense that has been together for a while. We do a lot of different things both at the line of scrimmage and in the huddle and in the meeting rooms. We expect to play fast when we're out on the field. I think for him it's taken a little bit of time to get adjusted, but when he knows what he's doing, he's a really, really good player."