Balzer USA Today
Howard Balzer bite on the Rams:
SPECIAL MOTIVATION: Just four days after Rams coach Mike Martz sent a wake-up call to first-round pick Steven Jackson, the rookie running back signed a five-year contract at a St. Louis restaurant where Marshall Faulk often entertains. Faulk was present Saturday night, along with agent Rocky Arceneaux and Rams president of football operations Jay Zygmunt.
Earlier in the week, when asked whether having Jackson created a comfort zone if Faulk continues to have issues with his knee, Martz said, "No, Steven Jackson doesn't count for anything at this point. He's a rookie that has no experience. He's not even here in the rookie camp, he doesn't know the offense, he's not in shape. We think he's going to eventually be a good NFL player, but right now he's our fourth running back."
Many of the team's rookies were at Rams Park working out in the 10 days before camp was scheduled to open Tuesday, but Jackson wasn't.
Cautioning about expectations, Martz said of Jackson, "The thing that people have to be very, very careful about, it's like a rookie quarterback. To say Steven Jackson is going to come in here and rotate with Marshall Faulk, there's just no way. It's not going to happen. You just can't have that kind of grasp. He's not ready for the speed of the game at that level. He's got so much (to learn). He's not here and he hasn't been here all spring, so what the normal rookie goes through, he hasn't had anything of.
"He's going to have to move up through the ranks like everybody else on this football team. Nothing will be handed to this young man."
On the field, that is.
Meanwhile, with the Faulk retirement story still having legs, Martz expressed surprise about there being any possible problem. He said, "I'm a little perplexed. I'm not aware of any hullabaloo. I guess I haven't been in town and didn't know there was any kind of concern. I don't know what it would be. He's come into the season the last two or three years at about 70% ... and played. He's probably at this point if you had to put a number on it, talking to (trainer) Jim Anderson, he's probably around 85 or 90% and improving every day."