- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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With the Buffalo Bills coming to town Sunday, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has been paying a lot of attention to Bills running back Fred Jackson, who's third in the NFL in rushing yards and second in total yards from scrimmage this season.
It was brought up to Ryan that Jackson would be playing in Arlington, Texas, where he was a backup running back at Arlington Lamar High School before going off to Division III Coe College and an indoor football league before finally making it to the NFL. Ryan said, "They ought to fire that (high school) coach, by the way," without realizing that the legendary high school coach in question was already retired, and later compared Jackson's running style to that of the late Walter Payton. In short, he likes the guy. Per Tim MacMahon on ESPNDallas.com:
"He's really tough. God, this guy is tough, now," Ryan said. "He takes on all comers. We purposely never showed some of the chip blocks he does on defensive ends because he leaves them on the carpet. He just blasts them, literally leaves them out there and getting carted off. So we have to watch out for that besides his great talent of running the football. He runs the ball like Walter Payton used to where he just looks people up and runs them over. But he's also got the fleet feet where he can make people miss. He's a special guy and he's a special kid, too. I really like this guy, respect him and hopefully we can knock the crap out of him."
Jackson is an important aspect of this game for a Cowboys team that gave up 135 rushing yards to Seattle's Marshawn Lynch last week in a game they were leading the whole way. Inside linebacker Sean Lee remains questionable, and even if he plays there's some question about how effective he can be with that big old cast on his arm. The Cowboys' defense hasn't been the same -- especially against the run -- since Lee was injured in the Week 8 game against the Eagles, and Buffalo could have major success in the middle of the field if Lee isn't there patrolling it as he was for the Cowboys' first six games of the year.