By Tim Graham
Fred Jackson, the competitor he is, wasn't apologetic in his confession.
Since Jackson's sprained knee on opening day, C.J. Spiller has erupted for the Buffalo Bills and looks every bit the part of a feature back. That makes Jackson eager to return even faster.
"Without a doubt," Jackson told me tonight. "He's playing out of his mind right now.
"I'm happy for him. He's getting a chance to showcase himself, but more than anything I want to get back out there because I want to be a part of what's going on."
Jackson, however, can't return on sheer willpower. He'll need a doctor's blessing, and that came closer to fruition today.
Jackson said a range-of-motion examination showed his lateral collateral ligament will not require surgery -- a remote concern before the checkup -- and his recovery should happen in the earlier part of the three- to eight-week diagnosis spectrum he was initially given.
"No bad news whatsoever," Jackson said outside the WBBZ-TV studio at the Eastern Hills Mall, where "The Fred Jackson Show" is broadcast live every Monday night.
"The doc said that it's coming along, that at this rate it wouldn't be the full eight weeks. Like I said before, I wanted to be back in four weeks, and he said that was a definite possibility and it will happen as long as we don't hit a snag anywhere."
Jackson said he should be allowed to begin light running this week. Doctors want him to wear a knee brace, something he'd rather not do. He didn't like the way they felt when returning from sprained medial collateral ligaments in college and the arena bush leagues.
"I can get used to wearing a brace," Jackson said. "I'm not a big fan of it, but if it's what I've got to do I'll do it."
Jackson's LCL was injured in the second quarter against the New York Jets on opening day. A four-week recovery would put him back on the field for the Week Five game against the San Francisco 49ers in Candlestick Park.
Buffalo's offensive co-captain still is targeting next week's home game against the New England Patriots.
"My goal is to be back as soon as possible," Jackson said. "This week definitely is not in, but New England is a possibility. We'll see if it happens."
Four plays after Jackson got hurt, Spiller ripped off a career-long 56-yard touchdown run. Spiller hasn't slowed down much since. After another eye-popping afternoon, he leads the NFL with 292 rushing yards.
Jackson acknowledged Spiller's production is added motivation -- but in a positive way.
"Having a guy like that around is going to make you competitive," Jackson said. "We compete with each other. At the same time, we know we have the same goal: to get us to the playoffs and to win a championship."