R.B. FALLSTROM
Associated Press
ST. LOUIS - Steven Jackson figures to be hampered again by a hip pointer in the St. Louis Rams' season finale. At least the running back is healthy otherwise.

That's a big change from last week. Jackson was held to 28 yards on 16 carries in a loss to the *****, but perhaps shouldn't have been on the field after spending time in a hospital emergency room the night before the game.

Jackson was suffering from flulike symptoms with a fever of 102.

"It was pretty bad," Jackson said. "Here we are about 14 hours before kickoff and I had to be rushed to the ER.

"It was a pretty difficult night and a lot of people didn't expect me to play."

Even though Marshall Faulk was coming off his best game of the season, Jackson said there was no doubt in his mind he'd be out there.

"I still wanted to play, I still wanted to compete," he said. "This is what I love to do."

Adding a fever to an injured left hip sustained the previous week, and running behind a banged-up and ineffective offensive line was a difficult combination against the *****. The Rams totaled 44 yards rushing while getting swept by San Francisco for the first time since 1998.

Jackson said the hip still bothers him and isn't the type of injury that extra padding will help.

"I'm not going to be 100 percent, I know that," he said. "It's one of those injuries that just takes time."

He'll get plenty of time after Sunday's night game at Dallas, also the NFL's regular-season finale. The Rams are 5-10 and headed for their worst finish since going 4-12 in 1998, the year before the franchise won its only Super Bowl.

But there's no sense of getting it over with.

"Next week when guys are in the postseason and wild-card games are being played, you're going to be home wishing you were one of those teams," Jackson said. "Especially when you see the talent we have in this locker room.

"It's just unfortunate and a shame that we're not going to be participating in the postseason."

First, he gets one more chance to improve on his first career 1,000-yard season. Despite last week's puny statistics and a number of other games when the team used him sparingly and went pass-heavy, he's seventh in the NFC with 1,046 yards rushing, with eight touchdowns and a 4.1-yard average.

Interim coach Joe Vitt said Jackson could be better, along with his supporting cast.

"I think right now we're not getting lanes in the running game that are clean, that he can see," Vitt said. "But he's done well. I wish we would have blocked better on the offensive line."

As a rookie, Jackson played behind Marshall Faulk most of the season before taking over as the starter late in the year and finished with 673 yards.

Any improvements he needs to make for his third season, he's keeping to himself. He's all but certain he won't be answering to Mike Martz or Vitt.

"I'll wait for a new coaching staff to tell me that," Jackson said.