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Thread: Jackson eyes a big number
Jackson eyes a big number
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Steven Jackson enters his fourth Rams training camp with a bounce in his step, a goal in mind, and his sense of humor intact.
Jackson walked into the team hotel on reporting day last week sporting a well-worn "I Believe" T-shirt. Where'd he get the shirt?
"Actually, a homeless guy had it," Jackson said. "I bought it off him."
Then he laughed. Jackson loves laughing at his own jokes, almost encouraging those around him to laugh along with him.
"I Believe" is the Rams' marketing slogan for the second consecutive year. And make no mistake: Jackson believes. He believes his breakout 2006 season was no fluke. He believes he can continue to be the workhorse of the Rams' running game. He believes he can top his impressive production of a year ago, when he led the NFL with 2,334 yards from scrimmage.
And no, Jackson hasn't backed down from his stated goal of 2,500 yards from scrimmage — a figure that would eclipse Marshall Faulk's NFL record of 2,429 set with the Rams in 1999.
When asked what he could do for an encore in 2007 after that monster 2006 campaign, the answer came out as direct as a Jackson run up the middle on third and 1: "Twenty-five hundred total — total yards from scrimmage," Jackson said.
And that's no joke.
"A lot of people say it's kind of hard to believe," Jackson said. "Some people say if I do that, the ball's not being distributed."
Jackson did receive some criticism nationally when he first mentioned the 2,500-yard goal in June. But Rams coach Scott Linehan has no problem with it.
"I hope he does (get 2,500)," Linehan said. "There should be a lot of points on the board and wins to go with it."
As Jackson points out, he wasn't far off from that number a year ago. If he had not missed part of the Chicago game with leg cramps. ... If he — and the rest of the Rams offense — wasn't shut down in a 15-0 embarrassment at Carolina. ... Jackson might have reached 2,500 last season.
"So I don't think the numbers that I'm asking for is a stretch," Jackson said. "I think as long as I think I can do it, and my offensive line is on the same page with me, I think it's achievable."
Even if 2,500 yards is achievable, is it desirable? Wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce have to get the ball some time. Newcomers Drew Bennett at wide receiver and Randy McMichael at tight end were productive pass catchers for their former teams and must be incorporated into the offense.
In addition, the whole idea of drafting Rutgers running back Brian Leonard in the second round last April was to give Jackson an occasional break during games.
"He can give me a break in practice," Jackson joked.
To outsiders, Jackson may come off as brash, selfish or both. Those who know him realize that's not the case.
"I've come to appreciate where he's coming from on a lot of things," Linehan said.
A little swagger at running back isn't a bad thing. Why not shoot for the stars? Why not aim for 2,500?
"Steven's not unlike a lot of special players," Linehan said. "They re-set their standards, set the bar higher. It's a challenge as much as anything. It's not a guarantee. He's just basically putting it out there because he wants to pull himself to it.
"I don't have any problem with those kinds of things as long as it's geared towards the success of our team. And I know Steven well enough ... it definitely is. And he made that very clear to the team. He said, 'You know how I am.'"
Exuberant. Energetic. And confident.
Confident enough that he doesn't mind vocalizing his goals, which is in sharp contrast to 2006, when he told reporters several times during the season that he had a number in mind for his rushing total — but wouldn't reveal that number.
It was only after the season-ending victory over Minnesota that he revealed that number: 1,600 rushing yards. Jackson fell short, but not by much, with 1,528 yards.
"He's vocal, because he's emotional," Linehan said. "He plays with that emotion, which is really a big part of why he's good. He uses it for the positive."
Re: Jackson eyes a big number
2,500 is all well and good. The big number I'm looking for is double digits in the win column.:r:l
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