Football

Arlington Lamar ex Fred Jackson finally gets shot at playoffs

Fred Jackson said he was caught off guard when the Bills cut him, but he’s happy to be reunited with Marshawn Lynch in Seattle.
Fred Jackson said he was caught off guard when the Bills cut him, but he’s happy to be reunited with Marshawn Lynch in Seattle. AP

This is what Fred Jackson always wanted. It’s just not with the team he always wanted it with.

The former Arlington Lamar running back signed with the Seattle Seahawks last week, leaving a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 1999 for one that has played in the past two Super Bowls.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Jackson said in a phone interview. “It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to come out here. This being my 10th year in the league and not being in a playoff game is something you don’t want to have on your résumé. You want to go somewhere where they know how to do things right and know how to get to the playoffs and have a run at the Super Bowl. That was the No. 1 motivating reason for me to come to Seattle.”

Since Jackson signed with the Bills practice squad in 2006, Buffalo sports a 58-86 record. Last year’s 9-7 record marked the first time Jackson played on a team that finished over .500.

In his eight seasons on the Bills’ active roster, Jackson won over the team’s hard-suffering fans. He had hoped to be part of the team’s revival and then retire there, leaving his mark on the city the way Jim Kelly, Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas did.

As happy as Jackson is to be in Seattle, he is as sad about leaving Buffalo. He insists he would have done anything to stay.

5,646 Career rushing yards for Fred Jackson, third on the Bills’ all-time list behind Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson and Thurman Thomas

“It was something that I was hoping not to happen,” Jackson said. “I was caught off-guard by [being released]. It’s one of those things that you just never want to be a part of. Your family is settled down in a place, and your goal is to play for one team and bring them a championship. I didn’t get that done. At the same time, I have a great opportunity in front of me to be part of a tremendous organization and make a run at a Super Bowl.”

The Buffalo News reported that Bills general manager Doug Whaley “went rogue” in cutting Jackson earlier this month. Jackson was scheduled to make $2.35 million as the third running back and doesn’t play special teams, but the Bills never discussed a pay cut with him.

“To my knowledge, it was just a decision that [Whaley] made,” Jackson said. “It’s one of those things I’ve always tried to get along with everyone, especially my coaches. I felt like that was the same with Rex [Ryan]. But it was a decision that was made, and they moved on, so I have to move on as well.”

He leaves third on the team’s all-time rushing list behind O.J. Simpson and Thomas with 5,646 career yards.

Jackson also has 322 career receptions for 2,640 yards.

Jackson said he had calls from 10-12 teams, with the Seahawks and the New England Patriots at the top of his list. He signed a one-year, $900,000 deal with Seattle to back up his former teammate in Buffalo, Marshawn Lynch.

“When I got released, he was the first person I called,” Jackson said. “I said, ‘Let’s see if we can reunite somehow, someway.’ He put a bug in the ears of everybody upstairs, and I got a phone call, and him being here was definitely something that motivated me to come here and play.”

Jackson, 34, is the oldest running back in the league. But he feels young again, rejuvenated by the thought of doing something he’s never done.

“I don’t think this is an exit ceremony or anything like that,” Jackson said. “I feel like I can still contribute a couple of years, and that’s the plan. Come here and contribute whenever my number is called out here in Seattle for however long those guys will have me. It’s on me to go out and make sure they know I can still play at a high level. If I can get that done, I’ve definitely got two or three years left in me.”

Watt’s finger wag

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt began the finger wag in 2012, his second year in the league.

“It’s kind of stuck with me ever since,” he said.

Dikembe Mutombo, the fourth overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft, made it his signature move after a blocked shot. He had 3,289 of them in his career, second only to Hakeem Olajuwon in NBA history.

Mutombo has reminded Watt he first made the finger wag famous.

J.J. Watt is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time first-team All-Pro and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

“It was literally something I just did because it was something that felt right at the moment,” Watt said, “and then I obviously learned more about the history of Dikembe Mutombo and everything. I have his blessing on it, so he’s an incredible guy, and we’ve become friends so I’m very fortunate.”

With 37 career batted passes and 57 sacks, Watt has used the finger wag plenty. Fans now do it to him as a show of respect.

“Oh, yeah, they do it all the time, especially little kids,” Watt said. “There’s a few things that fans do that we relate to each other with, and that’s one of them. It’s always fun when you have a way to interact with the fans.”

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @NFLCharean

Charean Williams’ five cents

1. Robert Griffin III remains on the Washington Redskins’ roster because of owner Dan Snyder. He becomes an expensive backup and a big gamble. Griffin will count $6.7 million against the 2015 salary cap, and if he’s injured and the injury extends to 2016, his $16.1 million salary for next season becomes fully guaranteed. No team will trade for that contract, which means Washington probably will release Griffin at some point before the 2016 season.

2. Kam Chancellor’s continued holdout puts Dion Bailey in the starting lineup at strong safety for the Seattle Seahawks. Bailey signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and spent most of last season on the team’s practice squad. He has never played in a regular-season game. Chancellor will lose $267,647 for every game he misses.

3. Former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall made the Jacksonville Jaguars’ roster as a defensive back. He made the switch the second day of the NFL Combine in February, having never played the position. Marshall initially will see action on special teams, getting work on the cover units and serving as a backup punt returner.

4. Jay Cutler led the Chicago Bears to no touchdowns in the preseason. The first-team offense had 15 total points, all field goals. New coach John Fox is stuck with him for the foreseeable future because Cutler’s contract guarantees him $15.5 million this season and $10 million next season. Cutler, 32, has a 1-11 career record against the Green Bay Packers, who have 22 interceptions against him.

5. Jameis Winston, the No. 1 overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had an uneven preseason. He completed 48.9 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and two interceptions while taking seven sacks in a game and a half of playing time. He did run for two scores.

Who’s hot

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 33 of 41 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 121.8 passer rating in the preseason.

Who’s not

Kicker Dan Carpenter, who has made 67 of 74 field goals in his first two seasons with the Bills, missed three field goals and an extra point in the preseason. He has had a hamstring injury, which is now healed.

Numbers game

7 Starting quarterbacks from the state of Texas, the most of any state: Cleveland’s Josh McCown; Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton; Detroit’s Matthew Stafford; Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck; Miami’s Tannehill; New Orleans’ Drew Brees; and St. Louis’ Nick Foles. The Lone Star State has eight backup quarterbacks on NFL rosters.

2016 NFL Draft

Dane Brugler of CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com gives his top 10 senior quarterbacks and top five underclassmen at the position for the 2015 draft:

Senior quarterbacks

1. Connor Cook, Michigan State, 6-4, 220

2. Cody Kessler, USC, 6-1, 215

3. Carson Wentz, North Dakota State, 6-5, 231

4. Nate Sudfeld, Indiana, 6-6, 240

5. Jacoby Brissett, N.C. State, 6-3, 235

6. Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky, 6-3, 216

7. Trevone Boykin, TCU, 6-1, 205

8. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State, 6-2, 232

9. Blake Frohnapfel, Massachusetts, 6-6, 230

10. Vernon Adams, Oregon, 5-11, 205

Draft-eligible underclassmen

1. Jared Goff, California, 6-4, 210

2. Cardale Jones, Ohio State, 6-5, 250

3. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State, 6-4, 236

4. Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati, 6-4, 208

5. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, 6-1, 228

Blitz

The Philadelphia Eagles have more than $11 million in cap space tied up in three running backs: DeMarco Murray counts $5 million, Darren Sproles $4.1 million and Ryan Mathews $2 million.

Larry Fitzgerald has played with 13 starting quarterbacks since being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2004.

Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski has 48 field goals of 50 yards or more, trailing only Jason Hanson (52) in NFL history.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has a career record of 30-31-1.

The Washington Redskins have not had a quarterback start all 16 games since Jason Campbell in 2009.

The Philadelphia Eagles gave up an NFL-high 72 pass plays of 20 yards or more in 2014.

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware will serve as a Denver Broncos team captain for a second consecutive season. Ware, who signed with the Broncos as a free agent before last season, was voted the only captain on defense.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 82.9 percent of his passes, breaking Rich Gannon’s 23-year-old team preseason record of 71.7. Backup Shaun Hill (73.5) also topped Gannon’s mark this year.

The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990. Former TCU quarterback Andy Dalton has gotten Cincinnati to the postseason all four of his seasons, but he has thrown only one touchdown and six interceptions in the playoffs.

The Kansas City Chiefs have not had a wide receiver catch a touchdown pass since a playoff game on Jan. 4, 2014, when Donnie Avery hauled in a 79-yard touchdown from Alex Smith. That was 617 days ago.

The Cleveland Browns have won one season opener since returning to the league in 1999.

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has a 9-2 career record against the Ravens.

Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett, who played at Arlington Grace Prep, had career highs in carries (235), rushing yards (1,266) and touchdowns (eight) last season. He also caught 44 passes for 263 yards in earning Pro Bowl honors.

The Green Bay Packers have lost three consecutive season openers, their longest skid since a five-game opening-game losing streak from 1985-89.

Information from The Sports Xchange was used in this report.

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