Running back Fred Jackson has never taken the easy route in life. Told by many people that he would never play in the NFL, Jackson set out to prove them wrong. After former coach Marv Levy secured a Bills’ try out for the running back in 2006, Jackson has been a fan favorite.

But with the off-season addition of former Philadelphia Eagles’ running back LeSean McCoy, Jackson is in the hot seat again. At  34, the running back needs to show  that he has not lost his juice. With training camp just underway,  Jackson is proving that he is still the glue of the Buffalo Bills’ offense.

  1. Clutch plays. Not known for being a breakaway runner, Jackson offers something even better in his powerhouse -- wear you down style. On third downs, Jackson is the rusher who will make the first downs and then some. He is not above stiff-arming an opponent to make the chains move. With fighting legs that are hard to stop, Jackson will stay on his feet until somebody makes him fall down. Fortunately, he usually falls forward, able to find that extra yard to keep the Buffalo offense on the field. 30 touchdowns. Almost 6,000 rushing yards. Jackson has been doing something right.
  2. A captain and a leader. There is a reason that  Jackson has been the team’s captain for many years. He is a motivator for other players, especially other rookies who are looking to keep their spirits up when things are tough. Jackson does not make excuses. The guy tells it like it is and is not afraid to hold other players accountable for their performance. Jackson shows his passion for football every time he steps onto the field.
  3. Consistent style of play. While other Buffalo Bills’ running backs such as C.J. Spiller and Marshawn Lynch have come and gone, Jackson has made the Bills team every year. What is his secret? Giving 100% all the time and not deviating from what he does best: pounding the ball and keeping his legs in motion. There is no gimmick. Just hard play and unwavering determination.
  4. Buffing his body. According to a recent Buffalo News article, Jackson knew that he needed to do something about his declining speed. When he asked his team’s workout staff what he should focus on, getting more strength was the answer. Now at 222 pounds, Jackson has done what he needs to do to keep playing at an optimal level. Poised to fit into the offense’s ground-and-pound bully approach, Jackson has assured fans and sports analysts that he is tougher and stronger than last year.
  5. Staying out of trouble. While others in the league have been arrested for drugs, domestic violence, traffic violations, and assaulting teenagers, Jackson has maintained a clean lifestyle. A good role for kids and the past winner of the Walter Peyton Award for charity work, Jackson has given back to his community. The city of Buffalo loves him.

Once an indoor league football player making only $10,000, Jackson has not forgotten where he came from.

He is also clear about where he is going. Jackson wants to break Marcus Allen’s record of playing until age 37. With his positive attitude and momentum of a boulder rolling downhill, Jackson is not stopping any time soon. It's time for Jackson and the Bills to knock the Patriots off of their AFC East perch.