Jackson Makes His Presence Felt
Jackson Makes His Presence Felt
Sunday, August 29, 2004
By Nick Wagoner
Over, around, through. Pick a preposition and it probably applies to Steven Jackson’s running style.
The rookie running back from Oregon State, who played well in the Rams’ first two preseason games, made his official announcement to the rest of the NFL that he is going to be a force sooner than later.
St. Louis coach Mike Martz said he is impressed with the strides Jackson has made.
“The more you give him the ball, the stronger he gets,” Martz said. “He’s like a typical USC tailback. The more you give him, the hungrier they get and they just keep rolling. I think safeties get tired of hitting him after awhile.”
Jackson left Washington’s defense with a different shade of skin: black and blue Friday night at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis’ 28-3 win. Jackson finished his evening with a little more than five minutes left. He was efficient, bruising and most of all effective in racking up 125 yards on 25 carries, adding a touchdown for good measure.
Ask Jackson to describe his running game and it is likely you will receive a variety of answers. He makes no qualms about his propensity for taking on defenders in the open field with little more than a dropped shoulder.
Quarterback Chris Chandler said he hasn’t been around many backs that can drive forward and finish runs the way Jackson does.
“That piles moves forward when he hits it,” Chandler said. “He’s got a ways to go, but he has a great start.”
Jackson said he likes the different aspects to his game, but he takes the most pride in leaving cleat marks on a defender’s chest.
“That’s the main ingredient in my game,” Jackson said. “That’s why the Rams brought me here, to add a little bit more of a downhill attack in their offense.”
Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 231 pounds, the chiseled Jackson is blessed with more than power.
Numerous times, Jackson has shown impressive finesse moves, such as his jump cut, where he takes a little hop to one side of the defender, adjusts his pad level and moves forward. Jackson also possesses enough speed to outrun most defenders. His ability to mix running styles is just one reason he was the first running back taken in the 2004 NFL Draft.
“I know a big part of my game is being so big and powerful, but at the same time I do have quick feet and I can get hit the holes,” Jackson said. “That’s another thing that can throw a defender off my game.”
Jackson has also displayed a soft pair of hands that make him a developing duel-threat back. In 36 games at Oregon State, Jackson rushed for 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns. He also caught 66 passes for 680 yards and six touchdowns.
Jackson entered the draft a year early and the Rams traded up with Cincinnati to grab him with the 24th pick. Jackson, who has battled soreness in his right knee, arrived at camp on time, even showing solidarity with his fellow rookies by riding the rookie bus. From that moment, Jackson has played with something to prove.
Jackson said he might be a rookie in age and experience, but he won’t let that affect his approach to the game.
“I’m a rookie and I think they (defenses) try to intimidate me,” Jackson said. “That’s why I come out so aggressively. I try to set the tempo. By me doing that, it brings my teammates on the sideline into the game.”
Martz said Jackson still has improvements to make, but the rookie should only improve as he begins to get acclimated to the complicated offense. Judging by his performance in the preseason, the thought of a runaway freight train like Jackson getting better is nothing short of scary.
Re: Jackson Makes His Presence Felt
I don't want to get ahead of myself, but the agility and power Jackson has shown thus far reminds me of a combination of Dickerson and Bettis. Nothing like inflated expectations, but if he acquires Faulk's blocking and catching skills the Rams finally may have cashed in.