We may have to wait until the regular season to see whether Steven Jackson has returned to top form.
Jackson, the Falcons’ starting tailback, sustained a left hamstring injury on Monday, coach Mike Smith told reporters today.
The good news? Smith anticipates Jackson will be available for the September 7 regular season opener against New Orleans.
“I don’t think it’s going to be anything that’s going to be real significant. He will be ready for the first game,” Smith said.
Jackson dealt with hamstring and toe injuries and missed four games in 2013, his first season with Atlanta. However, Smith said Jackson injured the opposite hamstring on Monday.
The 31-year-old Jackson rushed for a career-low 543 yards on 157 carries last season, gaining just 3.5 yards per carry.
Fourth-year pro Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Devonta Freeman are among the top reserve options behind Jackson, who’s entering his 11th NFL season.
Jackson probably didn’t figure to get too much work in the exhibition games; he had a combined 25 carries in three preseason games in 2013, and he didn’t play at all in the finale. The play of Rodgers and Freeman now becomes something to watch all the more closely during the summer. Freeman, a fourth-rounder from Florida State, is the key new addition to a running game that struggled a season ago.