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  1. #1
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    Jackson Heading Toward Huge Finish

    Jackson Heading Toward Huge Finish
    Friday, December 8, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    As a Minnesota Viking last season, safety Corey Chavous and his defensive teammates prepared for plenty of talented opponents. But, of all the players Chavous watched on tape, one stood out above the rest.

    “We went into the game and we were watching film and we felt like this is going to be one of the special backs in this league,” Chavous said.

    At that time, Chavous was speaking about the potential of Rams running back Steven Jackson. In the time that has passed since then, Chavous has had the opportunity to be around Jackson for almost a full season.

    And, in that time, Chavous’ opinion of Jackson has only changed. What once was potential has started to become reality.

    “Having the chance to play with him and see him week to week, he is in my opinion one of the two or three best backs in professional football if not the top back,” Chavous said. “When you start looking at his numbers and the things he is able to do, sure there are things in his game he will continue to round out because he’s young, but with his size, speed and versatility he is an unbelievable package.”

    In his third year in the league, Jackson has emerged this season among the top backs in the league in almost every major statistical category. In last week’s game Jackson topped the 1,000 rushing yard mark in just 12 games. Last year, Jackson didn’t reach the mark until the second to last game.

    In addition to his rushing exploits, Jackson has become a more well-rounded back this year as he added the dimension of pass catcher to his repertoire. For the season, Jackson has 1,028 rushing yards (sixth in the NFL), 72 catches and 1,650 total yards (third).

    “Steven’s having an outstanding year,” coach Scott Linehan said. “He’s one of the leading receivers in the league, too, as well as a guy that’s gone over 1,000 yards rushing. He still maintained his ability to run the ball very consistently all year, but his development as a receiver has kind of what has been the most impressive.”

    When Linehan arrived in St. Louis, he immediately set forth the idea that Jackson would become a focal point of the offense. In his offenses in Minnesota and Miami, Linehan had found a balance that used the pass and the run equally well. That meant changing the offensive philosophy that once emphasized full speed all the time and tweaking it to be more balanced.

    To achieve that type of offensive balance, Jackson had to become a key cog in the offense. Although Jackson ran for over 1,000 yards last year, it was a bit of a disappointment because he took so long to do it and he didn’t get the ball as much as he would have liked.

    That has changed this year as the Rams have not only made sure to get him enough carries, but have even put in routes in the passing game designed specifically to get Jackson the ball in open spaces.

    “He made a lot of statements in the offseason about who he was and what he could be and I think he has backed them up this year,” Chavous said.

    Jackson has indeed backed up his words by becoming the type of player he always said he could be.

    “I think I’ve matured as an overall back. I feel like I’m a guy that’s shown my teammates and coaches that there is really no need to pull me out of a game in a situation where I feel like I can do everything that the coaches have asked me to do, and I’m ready to go to battle with my teammates.”

    Aside from Linehan, veteran back Stephen Davis has also been instrumental in helping Jackson develop. At 6’3, 230 pounds, Jackson had a tendency to run too high in recent seasons.

    Even when Jackson thought he was getting low enough to bounce off would be tacklers; he didn’t realize what low was until he spent time around Davis, who is similar in build.

    Now, Jackson is running lower than ever and finishing every run with the same type of enthusiasm he would a big play.

    Jackson has also consistently improved in picking up the blitz and becoming a more complete back every week. Jackson won’t reveal what his rushing goal for the season is until he reaches it, but he is certain that he’d like to reach the 1,300 or 1,400-yard mark and the 2,000-total yard milestone.

    To get there, Jackson will need to have big games in each of the final four contests. That means having a big game Monday night against the Bears’ vaunted defense.

    Another of Jackson’s goals is to reach the Pro Bowl, something that would be easier to accomplish if he can perform on a national stage such as Monday Night Football.

    “We have a lot of regional games, but this is primetime so it’s time to put on your dancing shoes and be impressive and hopefully win some guys over in the voting,” Jackson said. “I have to go out and put on an impressive performance and my numbers will say the rest.”

    The ultra-confident Jackson is only gaining steam as he continues his climb toward some eye-popping numbers. Jackson has a chance to pass predecessor Marshall Faulk for most receptions by a Rams’ running back in the coming weeks and 2,000 total yards is a legitimate possibility.

    While Jackson isn’t yet mentioned in the same breath as the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson, he is well on his way. When informed that Chavous ranks him among the top three backs in the league, Jackson agreed, but said he wasn’t yet satisfied.

    “What’s more challenging than that is, I’m here trying to prove that I’m (number) one,” Jackson said. “I know that it will come over time as the yardage racks up, but right now I’m striving to be number one.”

    And inching closer with every game.


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Jackson Heading Toward Huge Finish

    I can remember the 1st season Jackson played for the Rams. My wife and I had made our annual trip out to St. Louis for a Rams game. As is our annual ritual, we arrived at the Dome early that Sunday morning to hopefully collect some more autographs on my wife's Ram visor. As the players walk accross the street( through the guarded area) from the Drury Inn to the Dome many would stop and sign the fans whatevers. Well we managed to get SJ to stop and sign the visor. Afterwards my wife would always ask who was that? This particular time I told her that was Marshall Faulks eventual replacment, Rookie Steven Jackson. Her response was get outta here, I thought he was one of the D-Lineman. My point is this guy is a beast and like a fine wine is getting better with age. IMO, the sky is the limit for SJ. I am looking forward to the years to come and the enjoyment SJ will bring to our team and us the fans.

  3. #3
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    Re: Jackson Heading Toward Huge Finish

    cant wait to see SJ playing behind a O-line and FB of the quality of SD&KC!

  4. #4
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    Re: Jackson Heading Toward Huge Finish

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    I can remember the 1st season Jackson played for the Rams. My wife and I had made our annual trip out to St. Louis for a Rams game. As is our annual ritual, we arrived at the Dome early that Sunday morning to hopefully collect some more autographs on my wife's Ram visor. As the players walk accross the street( through the guarded area) from the Drury Inn to the Dome many would stop and sign the fans whatevers. Well we managed to get SJ to stop and sign the visor. Afterwards my wife would always ask who was that? This particular time I told her that was Marshall Faulks eventual replacment, Rookie Steven Jackson. Her response was get outta here, I thought he was one of the D-Lineman. My point is this guy is a beast and like a fine wine is getting better with age. IMO, the sky is the limit for SJ. I am looking forward to the years to come and the enjoyment SJ will bring to our team and us the fans.
    Agreed, at first I was a little on the pessimistic side for this guy, but I've come to realize, there's something special we got with him. He really is a quality player, and although quite cocky, maybe thats what makes him fight for every single yard he gains. Its great to know we have a true fighter on our side. Good things will come with this guy for years to come! What's great is that, although a MONSTER, he's also the guy you call "an all-around guy". He has good hands, and even though we haven't seen him throw a TD, I still think he's one of those special tailbacks that can pretty much do it all. I've never been so glad at being totally wrong about a player.


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  5. #5
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Jackson Heading Toward Huge Finish

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew4EverRams View Post
    cant wait to see SJ playing behind a O-line and FB of the quality of SD&KC!
    Hopefully he'll be doing so as a Ram.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Jackson Heading Toward Huge Finish

    Definately! we need to keep him. His attitude needs to be drilled into the other players minds. He may not break every run for big gains but he keeps trying to make things happen everytime he has the ball. The only thing holding him back this year is his linemen, and the funky playcalling!!!

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