ADVERTISEMENT

NEW YORK -- Bills running back Fred Jackson today expressed his faith in quarterback EJ Manuel.

"I think he's going to be the guy that we need to be, it's just about keeping him healthy and getting him more reps," Jackson said, speaking with a small group of reporters at the Super Bowl XLVIII media center. "He's got enough foundation now that he can build off of. ... I think he'll definitely be that guys who can get us over the hump and to the next level."

News Sports Reporter Tim Graham explored the idea of drafting a quarterback in the first round this year in today's News. Jackson was asked his thoughts on if that were to happen.

"I think if anything, it makes you approach the game differently and more motivated," he said. "I think he's the type of guy who's highly motivated. I think if we did do it, it wouldn't do anything but motivated him and take his game to the next level."

If Manuel were to go through that -- and that's a big "if" -- Jackson is the perfect teammate to talk to. The Bills have taken two running backs in the first round (Marshawn Lynch in 2007 and C.J. Spiller in 2010) since he's been here.

"I am somebody that can relate to that, and tell him what it is he needs to do to continue to progress and not to worry about that," Jackson said. "I would definitely do that."

Manuel on Thursday indicated he's planning to gather the team's receivers and running backs in order to conduct offseason workouts in the next couple months, a plan Jackson heartily endorsed.

"I think it would be huge for us. I'm all in for it," he said. "I think it can definitely be a help for us. Him missing as much time as he did last year, it hurt him. So a way to kind of catch up with some of that is to do more stuff this offseason. I'm sure guys will be all in for that."

Free agency is another avenue the Bills could explore to add competition at quarterback.

"Whatever way we decide to go, I think he's going to be ok with it," Jackson said of Manuel. "With the coaching staff that we have in place, they'll do everything they can to bring him along with whoever it is that we do have in that room with him. He's a guy that's going to work no matter what. He'll be ready when we hit the ground next year and we'll all get behind him and do whatever we can to make his job easier. "

As for his own physical condition, Jackson said he's "90 to 95 percent" after playing through broken ribs late in the season, and a sprained knee earlier in the year.

"Just about there. We've had enough time off to start trying to get back into doing things now," he said. "Still got a little bit of tweakage with the rib, but that's going to be there for probably another two or three months. But I'm excited about it ... especially being out here seeing stuff like this, you get that itch. This is something we want to be a part of."