With most pre-training camp discussions focusing on the Buffalo Bills' 2013 starting lineup, there are several backups that should see significant playing time this season. Here at Buffalo Rumblings, we've decided to take a look at some of those players and determine which ones could be expected to take on a prominent role for the Bills.
While C.J. Spiller is clearly the Bills' best option at the running back position, Fred Jackson should be able to see his fair share of playing time in 2013. Jackson appeared in just 343 offensive snaps last season while dealing with numerous injuries, rushing for 437 yards and three touchdowns on 115 carries. He added another 217 yards and a score on 34 receptions, as well.
In 2011, Jackson was one of the premier running backs in the National Football League, leading the league in rushing yardage before suffering a season-ending leg injury. During those 10 games, Jackson racked up 1,376 total yards (934 rushing) and seven touchdowns.
During the 2012 season opener against the New York Jets, Jackson suffered another gruesome leg injury, but returned after missing just two games. Jackson took a beating throughout the 2012 season, and his play on the field regressed as the weeks wore on. However, with a full off-season to recover, the 32-year old veteran should be able to bounce back and play a significant role in the Bills' new offensive system.
New offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett noted during OTAs that he was definitely not averse to running the football, stating:
"You always want to be running the ball," Hackett said. "When in doubt, give the ball to a back."
While Spiller is certainly an electrifying weapon that should be consistently featured as the focal point of the offense, he has only had three games in his career in which he's carried the ball more than 20 times. He's not a running back that's going to pound it inside, as he's an elusive outside runner. This means that Jackson could see an uptick in touches, as long as the offense can sustain drives.
In Chan Gailey's pass-first, spread-'em-out scheme, running the ball became a secondary option at times, which resulted in limited touches for both Spiller and Jackson. That most definitely should not be the case this season, as the Bills will look to ease rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel into a starting role by running the ball and limiting his passing attempts. This should result in our Super Sub, Fred Jackson, returning as a prominent piece of the 2013 Buffalo Bills' offense.