The injury news was as bad as feared for Buffalo Bills receiver David Nelson.
For running back Fred Jackson, it was better - but still not great.
Nelson will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee and Fred Jackson will miss at least the next month - also with an injury to his right knee, which is believed to be a sprained LCL ligament. An MRI conducted Monday on Jackson's knee was inconclusive regarding the extent of the injury, a source told The News, and he will be re-evaluated next week.
"It's been a lot of work to be able to get back and play this year. Then to come out and [get hurt] in the first half of the first game is tough," Jackson told The News Monday night during a taping of "The Fred Jackson Show" on WBBZ-TV. "All I can do is keep working and try to get back out there again.
Jackson was hurt in the second quarter of Sunday's 48-28 loss to the New York Jets, when safety LaRon Landry hit him squarely on the left knee, and his right knee buckled.
"It was just tough. Initially, my knee popped. So I was really worried about that. After laying there for a little bit it didn't feel as bad as I thought," he said. "But even when I got to the sideline it wasn't quite right. I was just worried about that. But after looking at the initial hit on film and then seeing what I got diagnosed with, I feel extremely blessed."
Jackson said he's targeting the New England game in Week Four for his return.
"That's the one I want to get back for because it's New England, another divisional game. Those mean a lot to us. That's my goal. That's what I'm focusing on," he said.
The Bills will nevertheless have to go about replacing two major cogs in their offense.
"It is a setback and you have to get some other people up and going. That is just part of it. I feel like we have some other players who can come in and play, but not to the level of these two guys yet," coach Chan Gailey said. "Obviously C.J. [Spiller] was going to play a lot anyways so that was not an issue. [Tashard] Choice is just going to have to step up, be available and do his part. He is a good player. I feel pretty good there."
Gailey left open the possibility the Bills would add a third running back, but it's obvious the bulk of the work will be left to Spiller. The Bills' third-year back ran for a career-high 169 yards on just 14 carries Sunday, an unconscionable average of 12.9 yards per rush.
Stepping in for Jackson won't be new for Spiller. He did it last year, after Jackson broke his leg. Spiller gained 446 yards on the ground and another 187 receiving in the final six games of the season. Any questions about whether he's figured out the NFL game can be put to rest.
"It definitely gives you confidence to know that you can do it. But like I said, the quote that I am going to stick by for the whole year is, past success does not guarantee future success. I cannot just bank on the last six weeks to say I am capable," he said. "All I can do is have another great week of preparation. I thought I had one of my best weeks of preparation last week going into the game. I really was not surprised because I was really in sync with the offense, in tune with my offensive line and how they were blocking. It was just a matter of getting out there and doing it."
In Jackson, the Bills will also be without one of their offensive team captains.
"That speaks volumes of his character, and what the guys think of him on this team," Spiller said. "To lose one of your captains in your first game, it's a huge blow. . But we can't sit around and mope and not regain focus. That just means somebody on offense has got to step up."
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