The veteran seemed to run with the type of power the Falcons expected from him all along. Jackson gained 57 yards on 13 carries, including a long run of 13 yards.
"I was able to make a couple plays out there," Jackson said. "Once again, a step in the right direction. Definitely some things to work on. [I'll] look at the film Monday and see what I can get better at."
Jackson, who was sidelined for four games with a hamstring injury, returned to action the previous week against Arizona but managed just six yards on 11 carries. Poor blocking contributed to his ability to get going against the Cardinals.
But Jackson seemed to run with a purpose against the Panthers. Nothing was more indicative of his approach than when he pushed teammate Justin Blalock out the way in order to pick up a few extra yards on a first-half run.
"Being able to set a tempo, set an attitude, establish that we're going to run the ball regardless of a situation … for us to put that on film [and] for us to see us doing it and being successful at it, it helps feed the confidence in knowing that we can be a running football team."
The Falcons finished with 79 rushing yards, their highest total since gaining 146 yards against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. But Jackson had a two-yard touchdown run nullified by a holding penalty on guard Garrett Reynolds. And Jackson got stopped for no gain on third-and-1 during the Falcons' first series of the second. The offensive line obviously did a poor job blocking on that play.
Still, Jackson liked the progress as he prepares to face an old nemesis from the NFC West: the Seattle Seahawks.
"It's going to be another physical defense," Jackson said, "a team that's very aware of my running style. I'm sure they're going to have an extra guy in the box, especially coming off the little bit of success that we had today. We just have to continue to trust me, continue to trust my run reads, and continue to just lower my pads and run with authority."
If Jackson can do so consistently, then maybe he can show the Falcons just how helpful he can be in the future, when healthy.