(Every Monday after a Buffalo Bills game, I will post a column with some observations from Sunday's game. The column, called Buffalo Bills Monday, will include a main story with a few additional notes. Here is the first Buffalo Bills Monday column.)
As the Buffalo Bills were preparing for the start of the 2013 season, running back C.J. Spiller received a lot of the attention.
Spiller was coming off a great 2012 season. He rushed for 1,244 yards and six touchdowns. He was also a threat in the passing game.
People outside of Buffalo forgot about the other Buffalo Bills running back, Fred Jackson. Jackson started the 2012 season as the starter before he went down with an injury. The injury opened the door for Spiller, who was the main running back the rest of the way.
But Jackson showed Sunday why he's still a key member of the Bills offense. He carried the ball 13 times for 67 yards and caught four passes for 41 yards. He was able to pick up yards, both running the ball and in the passing game, when Spiller was struggling.
The best example of Jackson's work was the first drive of the second half. Jackson had four rushes for 17 yards and one catch for 11 yards on the drive. Two plays after Jackson's 11-yard reception, Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Stevie Johnson.
Jackson can still contribute. He might not rush for 1,000 yards, but he showed Sunday why he's still a key part of the Bills attack. He's a good change-of-pace back and is an effective receiver. Expect the Bills to use him a lot this year.
Robert Woods, Doug Marrone and September 8
Robert Woods won't forget Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013 -- the day he caught his first NFL touchdown catch against the New England Patriots.
It wasn't the first September 8 that Woods has caught a touchdown with coach Doug Marrone on the sidelines.
On Sept. 8, 2012, Woods, a receiver for USC, caught 10 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium. Of course, Marrone was the head coach of the Syracuse University football team last season.
After Woods torched the Syracuse secondary, I'm sure Marrone is glad that Woods is now playing on his team.
McKelvin registers good performance in season opener
With Jairus Byrd and Stephon Gilmore out due to injuries, Leodis McKelvin stepped up and had a good game Sunday against the Patriots.
McKelvin had six tackles and four passes defensed. On one drive in the fourth quarter, McKelvin had great coverage on a couple of Patriots and recorded two passes defensed.
Gilmore will be out for a few more weeks, so McKelvin will need to continue to play well. As long as he continues to play well, that will help the Bills defense against teams with solid passing attacks.
Alonso provides a strong presence in the middle
The Patriots had fourth and goal from the Bills' one-yard-line. The ball is snapped, but New England quarterback Tom Brady fumbles the ball. Rookie middle linebacker Kiko Alonso pounced, picked up the ball and picked up 13 yards on the return.
Alonso was another defensive player who had a good game Sunday. He had nine tackles (five solo) and the fumble recovery.
As a viewer, I noticed that Alonso was involved in a lot of plays. He didn't get close enough to get the tackle every time, but he was in the area. The Bills haven't had a strong middle linebacker since Paul Posluszny left town. After one game in Buffalo, Alonso looks like he can fill the void.