The coaches have raved for months about the improvements made by Jackson this offseason, but talk is cheap. Talk doesn't pick up first downs or oncoming blitzers.
Jackson, who came on strong at the end of last season after losing his starting job to injury and ineffectiveness as a rookie, showed the kind of leg-churning power that could turn him and Ryan Grant into a formidable one-two punch in the Packers' backfield.
Starting in place of injured Ryan Grant, Jackson rushed for 44 yards on six attempts in Monday night's 20-17 loss to Cincinnati at Lambeau Field. Thirty-eight of those yards came on two rushes in which it seemed like he was stopped in his tracks.
"I thought his second reaction, just breaking tackles, that's the Brandon Jackson that we all know and watched grow up in front of us," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Brandon had a nice evening."
On a 16-yard run during the Packers' second possession, Jackson ducked a tackle attempt by Domato Peko and broke into the clear. On the fourth possession, Jackson got the Packers' first touchdown drive rolling with a leg-churning 22-yard gain in which he broke free from two would-be tacklers.
Blitz pickup isn't as glamorous as breaking off 20-yard runs, but ask a quarterback about its importance. Jackson doomed the Packers' initial possession when he failed to see a blitz off the corner by the Bengals' Dexter Jackson, resulting in Aaron Rodgers getting sacked for a loss of 8 yards.
The only noteworthy injury was to receiver Ruvell Martin, who exited in the second quarter with a head injury.
Martin, who finished with two catches for 40 yards, was the intended target on a pass from Brian Brohm. The ball fell incomplete, and Bengals safety Marvin White drilled him late with a questionable hit.
Martin's night was finished with a head injury, though McCarthy said it "looks like he's going to be OK."
The only other injury mentioned by McCarthy was a sprained ankle that limited DeShawn Wynn to four rushes for 10 yards.
A dozen Packers, including seven starters, missed Monday's game.
The Packers were without four defensive starters — cornerbacks Charles Woodson (apparently a healthy scratch) and Al Harris (back) and tackles Ryan Pickett (hamstring) and Johnny Jolly (hip flexor), as well as end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee), linebacker Desmond Bishop (Achilles), tackle Justin Harrell (back) and safety Charlie Peprah (hamstring).
Rouse had two interceptions replacing an injured Collins last season, while Collins wasn't involved in a turnover-causing play. On Monday, Rouse raced from his position in center field to pick off a pass near the sideline.
"I think I played well," Rouse said. "Obviously, I consider myself a playmaker. So, I just want to go out there and continue to make plays."
Rouse had four tackles. Collins had three, but whiffed on a tackle that set up a Bengals touchdown.
Linebacker Brandon Chillar finished with four tackles, including one for a loss of yards. While he hasn't pushed incumbent strong-side linebacker Brady Poppinga for a starting job, Chillar is being worked into the defense in some of coordinator Bob Sanders' packages.
"I think the more comfortable I get, the faster I'm going to play," said Chillar, who was credited with the lone hit on a Bengals quarterback. "We had a good start today. It's a good first step, and now we've got to keep taking steps up."
First taste, Part II
Rookie defensive end Jeremy Thompson, a fourth-round pick, who is on pace to work his way into the regular rotation, recorded three tackles in his preseason debut.
"It went pretty well. It was really fun to be out there. Got a lot of things to improve," said Thompson, who is the younger brother of offensive tackle Orrin Thompson. "The speed is definitely faster," he added, "but it was just a lot of fun to get out there in a game situation. It seems like it's been forever since I've played in a game, so it felt really good to be out there."
— After his final play of last week's Family Night Scrimmage, Aaron Rodgers was serenaded with boos. Before his first play on Monday, he received a standing ovation.
"I thought it was a testament to our fans and the kind of fans we have just when the offense took the field for the first time, the standing ovation," McCarthy said. "I think it speaks volumes about the Green Bay Packer fans. There's no one who follows a team like our fans do. They'll watch every move that he makes."
— James Jones had the play of the night when he absorbed a pair of hits by Bengals defensive backs, lost his helmet but stayed on his feet to jog to a 30-yard touchdown.
"It's probably good for TV," McCarthy quipped. "I was very pleased with his play tonight. James is a very powerful young man, especially at the receiver position. It was a big play in the game for him. To keep his composure and finish the run after the catch I think is a testament to him."
— Punter Jon Ryan had a terrible night. Trying for a coffin-corner punt in the second quarter, he had a 15-yard shank. In the third quarter, he had a 14-yarder, which he said was blocked.
— Fourteen players caught at least one pass for the Packers, led by Donald Driver's four.
— Daryn Colledge got the start at left guard in his battle with Allen Barbre. They alternated by series until Colledge moved to left tackle to replace Chad Clifton. McCarthy wouldn't comment in depth on the line play until watching the film.
— The Packers have lost six straight Bishops Charities Games.
— The Packers are off on Tuesday, then will practice at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org