Falcons RB Steven Jackson returned to practice today

Falcons running back Steven Jackson, who increased his rehabilitation and conditioning work with team trainers last week, returned to practice on Monday.

Jackson, the projected starter, had been out since suffering a right hamstring injury during practice on July 28. This would put Jackson on track to be ready for the season opener on Sept. 7.

“It’s been a good rehab for Steven,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We’ve said along when the injury occurred that he’d be ready to go for the opening game. We are well on schedule to have that to transpire.”

Jackson is not likely to play against in the exhibition season finale against Jacksonville at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

“We’ve got some guys that we need to get some work and we’ve got some guys that we definitely know what they are capable of doing,” Smith said. “The ones that we know what they are capable of doing, will probably not get a whole lot of work.”

Jackson, 31, joined the Falcons as their top free-agent signing on offense in 2013 but had a disappointing season marred by injuries. He missed four games with a left hamstring injury and rushed 157 times for 543 yards, a career-low average of 3.5, with six touchdowns.

Jackson said his rehab wasn’t that tough. He had to come back from a left hamstring injury last season.

“I’m an old veteran guy, so I kind of know the tricks of the trade,” Jackson said. “I know what to do to get in shape if it’s just running wind sprints on the side while we’re doing walk-throughs or riding the bike early in the morning before the guys get in. There are 24 hours in the day for me to make sure that I’m fit and I’m ready.”

Veteran running back Jacquizz Rodgers has started all three exhibition games.

Also, tight end Mickey Shuler, who was in the concussion protocol program, and offensive lineman Gabe Carimi (ankle) were back at practice.

Safety Dezman Southward (concussion) was not dressed for practice and right guard Jon Asamoah was held out of practice with an undisclosed injury.