Steven Jackson: I 'believed my own hype' with Atlanta Falcons

After nine seasons of toiling in mediocrity for the Rams, Steven Jackson sought winning pastures by signing with the Falcons in 2013.

With eight-consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, he was the man in St. Louis who replaced the man in Marshall Faulk.

But the bruising back had just a rookie-year playoff appearance to show for it. He left the Show Me State with the hopes of winning with a perennial Lombardi Trophy-contender.

A torn hamstring and the worst statistical season of his career, however, proved otherwise.

"When I came here last year, I kind of believed my own hype," Jackson said, per The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. "The team was so close to going to the Super Bowl and I thought I was going to be the missing link. Then reality slaps you. It's still a team sport. This year I know I don't have to shoulder the burden of carrying the franchise. I'm not the missing piece, I'm just one piece. I feel comfortable knowing that I can still compete at a high level. But all of the unnecessary stress is gone."

The Falcons shored up their offensive line by drafting Jake Matthews and signing free-agent guard Jon Asamoah this spring. A healthy Julio Jones should further relieve the Falcons from the doldrums of last season's 4-12 record.

If a revived Jackson can't utilize his new road graders, look for a rotation of Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie rusher Devonta Freeman to take some of the veteran's snaps.

Such is the life for a respected running back on the wrong side of age 30.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan.