The beginning of the NFL preseason on Thursday night in Atlanta bore a lot of unfamiliar traits for Steven Jackson.
First, of course, there was the matter of pulling on a red and white uniform and black helmet after years of donning blue and gold. But even after coming through the tunnel to a raucous ovation from Falcons fans that made him feel welcome, Steven was still adjusting.
“Each and every year presents a new challenge and this year presents a lot of different challenges,” SJ said after his Falcons debut. “I have to learn a whole new scheme, a whole new offensive line. So it’s not only about timing, it’s about repetition.”
With that in mind, Falcons Coach Mike Smith opted to play SJ39, who through his years in St. Louis often played just one series if at all in the preseason opener, for most of the first two drives. He was on the field for nine snaps, including all of a seven-play drive that finished with a field goal.
No. 39 was pleased at the opportunity to play multiple drives as he continues to try to learn the tendencies of his new team’s offense, particularly of the blockers in front of him.
“I think particularly what you take from [those] series is trying to see the timing with the offensive line,” Steven said. “You want to see how my vision is and make sure I’m seeing things and trusting what I see.”
It was tough sledding for Steven in his first game as a Falcon. He carried the ball five times, but was able to pick up just eight total yards against a stingy Cincinnati front seven which ranked 12th in the NFL against the run last season. S-Jax also caught his first pass of the year out of the ATL backfield, something many observers at Falcons training camp expect to see a lot more of during the regular season.
After Atlanta went three-and-out on the second drive, Steven’s night was finished. But he was already looking forward to getting into the film room and watching tape of his play on Thursday night to see what he and his team can improve on heading into their second preseason game in a week at Baltimore.
“We haven’t played football in six, seven months, so to actually get some live game footage, get tackled to the ground, it gives us something to study over the next couple of weeks and get ready for the opener,” SJ said. “That’s what’s good about the preseason and what’s good about film, you get a chance to learn from different things. Everything always happens differently [in a game]. So you have to be able to react and do it in a timely manner so I can know and anticipate it going forward.”
- Falcons look sluggish in exhibition-opener loss (Atlanta Journal Constitution, August 9, 2013)
- Falcons lose first preseason game to Bengals (The Falcoholic, August 8, 2013)
- Falcons starters vs. Bengals starters (The Falcoholic, August 9, 2013)
- What they said: Falcons vs. Bengals (AtlantaFalcons.com, August 9, 2013
- Crowd gets loud for player intros (AtlantaFalcons.com, August 9, 2013