Fred Jackson practiced with the starting offense on Monday and, according to coach Pete Carroll, picked up the Seahawks’ offense in one day.
Fred Jackson may be the oldest running back in the NFL, having turned 34 in February.
But despite nine years in the league and now having four children of his own, Jackson says he still feels like “a big kid.”
It’s a trait he says he shares with good friend Marshawn Lynch, who is now once again his teammate after the Seahawks on Monday officially added Jackson to the roster.
Jackson, wearing No. 22, took part in practice, running with the starting offense with Lynch absent to handle a personal matter.
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And maybe it was a little bit of Jackson’s youthful enthusiasm that contributed to an almost effortless picking up of the Seattle offense that had coach Pete Carroll sounding amazed.
“He ran the whole offense today,” Carroll said of Jackson. “I don’t know how he got it all done, but he got it done in a day.”
Carroll said Jackson will “play a lot” in Sunday’s season opener at St. Louis, stepping into — and maybe expanding on — the role held the last few years by Robert Turbin, who would often spell Lynch during two-minute-drive situations.
It was Turbin’s ankle injury, which he suffered against San Diego and now has him on injured reserve, that helped spark interest in Jackson when he was released a week ago Monday by Buffalo.
The Bills were the only team for which Jackson had played in a career dating to 2006, and he had stated publicly he hoped to retire with the Bills — he is the third-leading rusher in the team’s history behind Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson with 5,646 yards.
Jackson was cut in part in a salary-cap move — he was due to make $2.3 million.
“It caught me off guard,” Jackson said. “It was something that wasn’t expected. But it’s part of the business.”
Jackson (who signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks worth $900,000) said Seattle was the first team that called. Lynch, who began his career in Buffalo in 2007 playing with Jackson until being traded to Seattle in October 2010, also called him almost immediately. Jackson visited Seattle last Tuesday and while he said some other teams were interested, quickly came to terms with Seattle (which decided to delay the signing until after the final exhibition game since Jackson wouldn’t have played in it anyway and to retain some roster flexibility throughout the final cutdown to 53).
“Just talking to (Lynch) and him telling me how much fun he has at practices and throughout the town and things like that was something that definitely had an influence on me to sign and come out here,’’ Jackson said.
What Jackson called “the No. 1 motivating factor,” though, is having a chance to win.
Jackson has never appeared in a playoff game, something he said Richard Sherman joked about with him on Monday.
Jackson responded: “We all haven’t been that fortunate.’’
He hopes to do more than just go along for the ride, though, if Seattle makes it back to the postseason for a fourth straight year.
Jackson led the Bills with 525 yards rushing last season and was second in receptions with 66 for 501 yards. Carroll said seeing Jackson rip off a 41-yard touchdown in an exhibition game against the Steelers showed the Seahawks that he still has it.
Carroll envisions Jackson having a key role in third-down situations both receiving and pass blocking.
It’s a role the team did not think that Christine Michael — who was Seattle’s third team tailback all preseason behind Lynch and Turbin — could fill. Seattle traded Michael on Sunday to Dallas for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2016, leaving Lynch and Jackson as Seattle’s likely two main ball carriers this season (undrafted free-agent rookie Thomas Rawls also made the team but figures to be the No. 3 tailback).
“He’s going to give us some real secure play right now coming out of the backfield and doing some things for us that we need some help on,” Carroll said.
Shocked a week ago to be told by the only team he had ever known that it no longer wanted him, Jackson expressed much different feelings Monday.
Looking around a sun-splashed practice field for a team coming off two straight Super Bowls, Jackson smiled and said “I couldn’t have picked a better place to come to. … this is the best thing that could have happened to me.”
Teams have called about Chancellor
Carroll confirmed on Monday that other teams have inquired about strong safety Kam Chancellor, who continues to hold out.
But Carroll said the Seahawks are not interested in talking.
“There have been a couple of phone calls from other teams, people just kind of wondering what is going on,” Carroll said. “We’re really not interested in talking to them about that, so we just don’t.”
A report over the weekend stated specifically that the New York Giants had shown interest in Chancellor.
Chancellor has been holding out since training camp began on July 31, making Monday officially his 39th day out.
If Chancellor misses Sunday’s game, he will forfeit a game check of $267,647.
Asked if there was anything new in Chancellor’s situation, Carroll said simply “no.”
Chancellor’s absence was also notable in another manner Monday as Carroll announced the team’s captains — QB Russell Wilson for offense, punter Jon Ryan for special teams and linebacker Bobby Wagner for defense. Last year, Chancellor had been one of the captains, who are elected by the players.