Bill Belichick loves him some Fred Jackson

December, 21, 2010
12/21/10
4:39
PM ET
Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson rushed for 8 yards against the New England Patriots in Week 3.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick still harbors great respect for Jackson, calling him one of the best in the business.

"I have as much respect for him as really anybody we've played," Belichick said Tuesday on a conference call to preview Sunday's game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. "He's a complete guy, does it all and shows really good toughness and can get the tough yards."

Belichick loves overachievers like Jackson, who would fit right in with the Patriots' collection. Tom Brady's supporting cast includes Wes Welker, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead -- three undrafted players who were waived at least once in their careers.

Jackson didn't start for his high school team and went undrafted from Division III Coe College. Jackson meandered through the arena bush leagues, NFL Europa and the Bills practice squad before getting his shot.

He was a 1,000-yard rusher last year and is 189 yards away from doing it again.

He's also one of the NFL's great bargains. Jackson was in a tough spot when his contract was up last year because of his career path. He was 28 years old, but without enough accrued seasons of experience, still was considered a restricted free agent.

The Bills signed Jackson to a four-year extension that can't make him too thrilled these days. He proved to be better than 2007 first-round draft choice Marshawn Lynch, since traded. Ninth overall pick C.J. Spiller didn't make a rookie impact as hoped.

Belichick didn't sound surprised that Jackson has outlasted them.

"He's outstanding, good at everything, good on blitz pickup, a good outside runner, good inside runner," Belichick said. "They use him in the passing game as a receiver, split out and empty and those kinds of things. He's a very good screen back. ...

"He's got big-time speed as well as power, but he's very tough in the tackle-to-tackle area. It seems like he can always find some space and get a few yards and squeeze through there or power through there."

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