Steven Jackson: Couldn't have asked for better Christmas gift

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Veteran running back Steven Jackson, who remained unsigned as a free agent into late December, had accepted that another opportunity might not come in the NFL. Then the injury-depleted New England Patriots called.

“It’s exciting; couldn’t ask for a better Christmas gift,” Jackson said Wednesday in his first meeting with reporters since signing a one-year deal. “Initially I did [have doubts]. But I have a mom with strong faith and she instilled that in me.”

Jackson joins fellow running backs Brandon Bolden, James White and Joey Iosefa on the roster, helping to fill the power running back role after LeGarrette Blount was placed on season-ending injured reserve last week. Asked what he might bring to the Patriots, he said, “They’re already a championship team. They just needed some depth to the chart.”

Jackson’s meeting with reporters was cut short after about 90 seconds by a team official, with Jackson sharing that he had been working out three days a week, which included jogging, in hopes of keeping his hopes of playing for a contender alive. “Thankfully, I did that,” he said as he prepared for his first faster-paced practice in New England after going through Tuesday's walkthrough.

His background in the team’s offense, from having played under current Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels with the St. Louis Rams in 2011, was cited by coach Bill Belichick as an important factor in determining Jackson’s fit both on and off the field.

Jackson said over the last 24 hours that he has asked quarterback Tom Brady questions about what certain words mean in the playbook, but overall, he hasn’t been overwhelmed by cramming with the offense.

“I think initially when the phone call happened, it was a little surreal, but now kind of settled down and playing football and doing what I love,” he said. "I have to get in as fast as possible and learn the offense, and whenever coach calls my number, be ready to execute like any other guy in the backfield.”

Earlier Wednesday, Belichick took more of a wait-and-see approach with Jackson, saying, "His career speaks for itself. We'll see where it goes. It's been a long time since he's been on the football field"

"I don't think there is any question about Jackson's intelligence, work ethic, character or anything," Belichick added. " He was a great player. Where is he now? I don't know.