By Jim Thomas
Tuesday, Oct. 23 2007

It looks like the big fellow at running back, Steven Jackson, will return to
the lineup Sunday for the Rams against Cleveland.

"I think there's a good chance," coach Scott Linehan said Monday. "My feeling
is that it's not 100 percent, but close. ... It looked like he had the burst he
needs to have — and the confidence — based on practicing last week."

Namely, the confidence that Jackson's partially torn groin muscle, which has
sidelined him the past four games, is healed. Or at least healed enough to
allow him to play against the Browns at the Edward Jones Dome.

After managing just three Jeff Wilkins field goals in back-to-back road losses
to Baltimore and Seattle, the Rams' offense desperately needs a spark — a spark
that perhaps Jackson can provide.

"You guys all know what he adds to the table for us," Linehan said. "He gives
us an explosive player on the field — one that can affect the game in a
positive way with his ability to run the ball and catch it out of the
backfield, and (with) his leadership."

Or, as offensive coordinator Greg Olson put it, "He brings what we call 'juice'
to the table for us. Both physically and emotionally, he brings a lot to our
football team. So we're really excited to get him back."

With a team that currently ranks 32nd in scoring offense, 30th in total offense
and has yet to score a rushing touchdown, the Rams need all the "juice" they
can muster.

"We need juice right now," Olson said. "We need something."

Other than a 102-yard rushing effort by rookie Brian Leonard on Oct. 7 against
Arizona, the Rams have gotten little going on the ground in Jackson's absence.
Against Dallas, Baltimore and Seattle, the Rams have averaged 60.7 yards
rushing and 2.8 yards per carry. As a result, opposing defenses have been able
to zero in on the Rams' passing game, which hasn't been good for the health and
well-being of quarterbacks Marc Bulger and Gus Frerotte.

Cleveland, which is coming off its bye week, could provide an elixir for what
ails the Rams. The Browns rank 32nd in the league in total defense, 30th in
rushing defense, and are yielding 4.9 yards per carry. A fresh Jackson could
ignite the running game, and the offense in general, for the winless Rams (0-7).

"I think he was hoping that maybe he would've been ready to go against
Seattle," Olson said. "Because he jumped in there and took some reps last week
(in practice) and looked very explosive.

"Obviously, we kept him out of contact last week. But in terms of his running
style, he looked very good. So we'll try and get him involved. We'll see how he
practices this week, but we plan on having him involved in both the run game
and the pass game" against Cleveland.

Jackson may be a Pro Bowler, but he's not Superman. If the Rams don't do a
better job of blocking, particularly the offensive line, Jackson's return won't
matter much.

After getting only two touches and no carries during the exhibition season,
Jackson started slowly during the regular season. He lost two costly fumbles
against Carolina, turning momentum away from the Rams in the third quarter of
what became a 27-13 loss.

Before being sidelined with the groin injury, Jackson averaged a modest 77.7
yards per game rushing and 3.4 yards per carry this season. Since then, the
Rams have lost starting left guard Mark Setterstrom and tackle-guard Adam
Goldberg with season-ending injuries. Yet another offensive lineman, center
Brett Romberg, is expected to miss the Cleveland game with sprains in both

"We'll have another starting unit again this week, for whatever umpteenth
time," Linehan said.

Even with Jackson back, that won't help the continuity of the offensive front,
be it run-blocking or pass-blocking.