By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
Wednesday, Dec. 08 2004

Rams running back Marshall Faulk practiced on Wednesday. Steven Jackson didn't.
And Arlen Harris got plenty of work with the starters.

But as to who will start at running back, and how much each of them will play
Sunday against Carolina, well, that remains very much up in the air.

Despite giving an extremely qualified nod in Harris' direction as his probable
starter, coach Mike Martz said Wednesday that Faulk and Jackson and their
bruised knees will be available to play against the Panthers.

"Steven will be ready to go," Martz said. "So will Marshall."

Jackson suffered his injury Sunday against San Francisco en route to a 119-yard
rushing day. There is no structural damage or ligament problems, Martz said.
But the knee swelled up overnight Sunday. As a result, excess fluid had to be
drained from the knee. Jackson watched Wednesday practice in sweats.

"He feels a whole lot better," Martz said. "I'd like to give him some reps here
during the week. Hopefully on Friday, and maybe a little bit (today). But we'll
just see. ... We're going to do the right thing by him physically."

Reading between the lines, it seems that Martz would like to rest Faulk's knee
one more week if possible. But while Jackson was watching, Faulk was getting
some work with the first unit Wednesday in practice.

"I wish he didn't" practice, Martz said. "Especially this time of week. I'd
rather he do a little more work (Thursday), and then back off on Friday."

Jackson isn't sure when he injured his knee against the *****. But one thing
came through loud and clear Wednesday: He's no fan of the artificial surface at
the Edward Jones Dome.

"That surface there is unforgiving," Jackson said. "You're basically taking two
hits on the play. Not only are you getting hit by the defender, but you're
taking quite a blow hitting that turf. These next two weeks, I'm happy we're on
grass."

Following the Carolina game, the Rams play Dec. 19 at Arizona.

Despite being in some discomfort Wednesday, Jackson sounded as if there was no
doubt about his playing status against the Panthers. "It's all right," he said.
"I'll be there."

Jackson said he probably has spent more time in the training room getting
treatment this week than the rest of the season combined. Jackson was listed as
questionable, with Faulk probable, on the Rams' first official injury report of
the week.

With Faulk hurting and the season at a critical stage, Jackson feels some
pressure to bounce back and play despite his injury.

"You have things going in the right direction, and I had a pretty good game on
the ground (against San Francisco)." he said. "We're going to need a physical
kind of running style this weekend because they're a physical defense."

Martz expressed some frustration Monday about Jackson's injury, but Jackson
said he understood.

"Once you get something good in one direction, and then something like this
happens, it can tend to be a little overwhelming," Jackson said.