As the Atlanta Falcons prepare for their final preseason tune-up against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, Steven Jackson was back on the field on Monday with his sights set on the regular season opener that is now less than two weeks away.

“Felt good out there today,” Jackson said. “It’s always exciting to be on the field with your teammates. Quite different than when you’re on the side rehabbing by yourself. But to be in the mix of things with my teammates, it felt pretty good.”

SJ39 had been off the field since suffering a left hamstring injury early in training camp, but ramped up his strength and conditioning workouts last week and made his return to the practice field on Monday looking to get some preparatory reps.

Teammates were glad to have Steven back at practice and wide receiver Julio Jones told reporters that SJ39 adds a whole new dimension to the offense.

“With all these weapons we’ve got outside … if you’re going to go zone, we’re going to run the ball,” Jones said. “And that dimension there, with the running game with Steven Jackson, man, I mean he’s big, strong. And he’s athletic. He can run a guy over. He can take it to the house. He’s got the speed and everything, too. So that’s a great part.”

Steven dealt with an injury to his right hamstring last season that caused him to miss four games, but he noted that experience caused him to have a new perspective and approach with his more recent ailment.

“When the injury happened to the other leg, I just asked myself and said, ‘There’s a reason for this, and I’m going to approach it in a different manner,’ ” he told the media after Monday’s practice. “Last year, I was stressed. I wanted to make sure I was out there on the field. I felt like I had something to prove. And this year, I said, ‘You know what? I’m just going to take it with a grain of salt. I’m going to make sure I’m 100 percent healthy by the time I come back so that the Atlanta fan base gets to see exactly what they expect.'”

When the injury occurred on July 28th, Falcons coach Mike Smith assured that No. 39 would be ready to go when the Falcons take the field at the Georgia Dome on September 7th to host the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 of the regular season. On Monday afternoon, Smith reiterated that sentiment.

Smith also left open the possibility that Steven could get some tune-up work this Thursday night when the Falcons travel south to Jacksonville where they’ll take on the Jaguars in their fourth and final preseason game of 2014.

No. 39 said on Monday that he’d leave it to the coaches to decide whether he plays in that game:

“I mean, I love the game of football, so whenever there’s a football on the field and there are two teams opposing each other, I’m ready to play,” he said. “But at the same time, those hits in the preseason hurt just like those ones in the regular season hurt as well.”

Kickoff of Thursday’s game is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET and it can be seen locally on The CW 69 Atlanta.