Veteran RB Steven Jackson shows he still has gas left in tank

Steven Jackson played nine snaps Sunday as he works to shake off the rust from having not played football for almost a year. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- First impressions of veteran running back Steven Jackson?

He still has something left in the tank to help the New England Patriots in their playoff push but remains a work in progress.

Jackson played nine snaps in Sunday’s 26-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets, and although his stat line doesn’t jump off the page (seven carries, 15 yards), this is a case where it requires looking beyond the numbers.

The goal Sunday was to help the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Jackson shake off rust from having not played football for almost a full year. And, in the process, to give the coaching staff a feel for if Jackson still has some juice to power through opposing defenders.

If there was one run that stood out as the most encouraging along these lines, it was Jackson’s 7-yard jaunt with 5:15 remaining in regulation. On the play, Jackson came rumbling downhill, decisively cut to his right and lowered his pads after powering through the gap between right tackle Marcus Cannon and tight end Rob Gronkowski to run through cornerback Marcus Gilchrist.

“The body feels good, used to getting hit again,” Jackson reported after the game. “That was the main thing -- make sure I was running between the tackles and getting my shoulder pads down and being in football position having not been in it for a while. Now it’s just to build off what I’ve done today.”

Jackson relayed that prior to his first run -- a 5-yarder for a first down in the second quarter -- he was whispering to himself to “calm down and be patient.” He said those kind of butterflies are normal for him.

“It felt good,” he said of his debut. “That first half of football was just trying to get back in the rhythm of things, making sure I was up to speed, not only physically but mentally as well. It’s just unfortunate we couldn’t pull it off, which would have made the whole thing very rewarding.”

Quarterback Tom Brady seems to like the potential of Jackson becoming a bigger contributor.

“Brandon [Bolden] and James [White] have done such a great job with LG [LeGarrette Blount] and Dion [Lewis] being out. It’s nice to get another back in there like Steven, who has experience, and he got back into a little football mode that he’s been off for 11 months,” Brady said on WEEI on Monday morning.