Fred Jackson backs off claims
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Fred Jackson has been assured he is, in fact, the Buffalo Bills' starting running back. And if Jackson's looking for respect, he need look no further than his fellow running back C.J. Spiller.
The Bills two-time leading rusher was in a more upbeat mood following practice Tuesday, a day after expressing his frustrations by questioning his role on the team.
Jackson had what he described as "a productive talk" with offensive coordinator/running backs coach Curtis Modkins earlier in the day. Jackson said he's been informed he will be starting on Saturday when the Bills host Jacksonville in a preseason game.
That's a step in the right direction. After all, Jackson felt disrespected after being bumped to a No. 2 role behind Spiller in a 24-10 loss at Denver last week.
"I didn't know what was going on and I like to be told where I stand and not kind of have to guess about it," he said. "We will see how things pan out."
Another concern is Jackson's contract, which he hoped the team will restructure. Jackson feels he's underpaid in entering the third season of a four-year deal worth about $7.5 million.
Entering his fifth season with the Bills, Jackson has felt he's earned the No. 1 job after leading Buffalo with a combined 1,989 rushing yards the past two years.
Jackson says his differences were with the team and added he meant no disrespect to Spiller. And Jackson can understand the Bills' intentions to use Spiller, considering they selected him ninth overall in 2010.
"You don't take a guy in the top 10 if you don't plan on playing him, obviously," Jackson said. "But I feel like I've done a lot to speak for myself on the field as well."
Caught in the middle was Spiller, who said he didn't take offense when learning of Jackson's comments.
"It doesn't bother me at all. Who wouldn't want to be the No. 1 back?" Spiller said. "Of course, there'll probably be some frustration when you feel like you're getting overshadowed. And there's nothing wrong with a guy voicing his opinion. There's no jealousy between me and Fred."
Spiller noted both have the same goal in trying to help the Bills succeed, and he has plenty of respect for Jackson.
"Fred, he's done proven himself," Spiller said. "Fred has nothing else he needs to prove to anybody. I'm just a guy trying to learn of what he's done."
Coach Chan Gailey re-emphasized Jackson's importance to the team.
"Fred is a great player we look forward to what he is going to do for us this year," Gailey said. "He's going to have a big part in our offense this year."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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