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Jackson likes honors but wants to get into playoffs
ST. LOUIS - Being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week and the St. Louis Rams' 2006 MVP is nice, running back Steven Jackson said Wednesday, but making the playoffs is more important.
To reach the playoffs, the Rams (7-8) must defeat the Minnesota Vikings on the road and have the New York Giants, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons all lose or tie.
"Those awards are gratifying but there's bigger business to take care of right now," Jackson said. "I'll reflect back on all this after the season. Right now, I'm focusing on beating Minnesota and hopefully sneaking into the playoffs."
Jackson, in his third season out of Oregon State, became the third Rams player in the last four years to earn the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award. In the 37-31 overtime victory against Washington on Christmas Eve, Jackson rushed for 150 yards on 33 carries and grabbed six passes for 102 yards. In doing so, he became the first Ram to have more than 100 yards rushing and receiving in a game.
In the win, Jackson scored twice - a 64-yard reception and a 21-yard gallop in overtime for the game-winner.
"Statistically-wise, it may have been my best game of the season," Jackson said, "but I just don't look at the numbers. I make sure I protect Marc (Bulger) and do the intangible things my coach asks me to do."
Jackson has 2,168 yards from scrimmage this season (first NFC, second NFL). Jackson has 1,386 yards rushing (third NFC, fifth NFL), the most by a Ram since Jerome Bettis' 1,429 yards in 1993.
Jackson, who earned his first Pro Bowl berth this season, leads the Rams with 88 receptions, and is second in the NFC (fifth NFL). His 88 receptions are a Rams record for a running back and tied for the sixth-most for a running back in a single season, while his 782 receiving yards (leads all NFL running backs) is the fourth-most for a running back in Rams' history.
"I think I'm developing as a player and as a man, coming into my own," Jackson said. "I'm a guy not only working on making myself better but the other people around me. It's a team sport and whatever I accomplish, my teammates accomplish."
First-year Rams coach Scott Linehan planned to feature Jackson in his offense this year. Jackson made it clear he wanted the ball more this year, now with future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk gone from the scene.
"I don't think it's any secret he wanted to take a big step as far as his ability to help impact our team to win," Linehan said. "Nothing about personal satisfaction or awards, he felt with a bigger role, he could help us achieve more. I believe we're doing that."
While Linehan said he knew Jackson could run, his ability to catch the ball has improved.
"People around here have been accustomed to watching a running back being able to do both," Linehan said. "In Marshall's heyday, he certainly was a dominant player. I think, you know, Steven has taken the challenge of being able in maybe a different style but similar results in being able to be a pretty well-rounded running back.
"He's backed up everything he wanted to get done and more."
This Sunday, Jackson and the Rams will go against the Vikings, who have the No. 1 rushing defense in the NFL. Minnesota allowed only 54.5 yards on the ground a game.
"We have a big challenge to out against this run defense of Minnesota," Jackson said. "Their two tackles (Kevin Williams and Pat Williams) are probably the best in the league."
NOTES: The Rams held WR Torry Holt out of much of the practice Wednesday. Holt is nursing a sore left knee. "I'm fine," Holt said after practice. "I"m playing with it." ... Punter Matt Turk was sent to a doctor to look at an infection on his leg. ... as a former offensive coordinator at Minnesota, Linehan said the Metrodome is a loud place to play in for a visiting team. "If it's not the loudest, it's one of them," Linehan said.