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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Jackson Not Deterred by Doubters

    Sunday, July 29, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Soon after completing his breakout NFL season, running back Steven Jackson did what anyone who just made their first Pro Bowl would do. After jumping over the bar of standard he had already set, he decided it was time to raise the bar even higher.

    And Jackson’s idea of raising the bar was taking it to a place it had never been. In addition to the usual team goals, which include winning the division and, ultimately, the Super Bowl, Jackson set an individual goal that if accomplished would land him in the NFL record books and quite possibly the Most Valuable Player award.

    The goal: 2,500 yards from scrimmage in 16 regular season NFL games. Should Jackson reach that number, he would have accomplished something never done before in the NFL as the record of 2,429 was set by Marshall Faulk in 1999.

    Not long after stating that as his goal, Jackson dealt with a slight backlash from some of the so called analysts and experts. They proclaimed his goal selfish and unreasonable and one television analyst even said that Jackson’s achieving that goal would be detrimental to the performance of the team.

    “Steven is not unlike a lot of special players,” coach Scott Linehan said. “They reset their standards and set the bar higher. It’s a challenge if anything. He wants to hold himself to it. I don’t have any problem with those kind of things as long as it is geared toward the success of our team and it definitely is. He made that very clear to the team.”

    After making his goal proclamation, Jackson didn’t waste any time in speaking with his teammates about his point. In fact, Jackson got up and told everyone in a meeting that he sets his goals individually in a way that he believes will help the team reach its goals.

    Having Jackson as the foundation sure didn’t hurt the offense in 2006. More often than not, Jackson was the team’s offensive focal point and it paved the way to a season that would become one of the best any running back has ever posted.

    By the time the season was over, Jackson had 2,334 yards from scrimmage, which placed him in the top five all time in that category. But Jackson believes his objective is not only good for the team but also realistic.

    “A lot of people say it is kind of hard to believe,” Jackson said. “Some people say if I do that the ball is not being distributed. I didn’t put up 1,500 last year, I put up 2,300 so I don’t think the number I am asking for is a stretch. I think as long as I do what I have been doing and the offensive line is on the same page, I think we can achieve it.”

    Heading into the offseason, Jackson set out to find ways to make himself a better player. Following a year in which he broke out as a receiver (he finished with 90 catches for 806 yards and three touchdowns), Jackson searched for ways he could improve his game.

    In one conversation with Linehan, Jackson broached the topic of finding a reliable and durable backup that could help alleviate some of the pressure. Veteran Stephen Davis was nothing short of instrumental in helping Jackson emerge in 2006, but simply didn’t have enough tread on the tires to continue to be effective for more than five or six carries a game.

    With that in mind, the Rams used a second-round choice on versatile back Brian Leonard of Rutgers. While Linehan and Co. are still figuring out the best ways to use Leonard in the offense, Jackson is making it known that he doesn’t intend to spend much time on the sidelines.

    “He can give me a break in practice,” Jackson joked.

    But Jackson is taking his role of mentoring Leonard and helping him in the offense seriously. When any of the younger backs ask Jackson (who is entering his fourth season) for advice, he is quick to oblige. And Jackson does his best to lead by example.

    To that end, Jackson took steps in the offseason to become a better leader by being around for his teammates and making himself available to younger players looking for veteran guidance. In addition, Jackson is spending this training camp working on his route running and his blitz pickups.

    “Now that I have had the season I have had, I am going to get a lot more attention from the defenses and I have to be sound in my game,” Jackson said.

    Jackson has never been much of a fan of training camp, but realizes it’s a part of the job. Jackson says he will spend his time between practices keeping his head buried in a good book or watching CNN to keep up with what is going on in the world.

    When he’s in meetings or at practice, though, Jackson has been all business. After finishing the 2006 season with a flourish (he ran for 419 yards in the final three games), Jackson saw the potential of what could happen running behind a young and hungry offensive line. And the return of a Pro Bowl veteran has Jackson confident that more could happen in 2007.

    “I hope we can pick right back up,” Jackson said. “The offensive line finished with a great performance and I really thought those guys jelled together at the end of the year. With (Orlando) Pace coming back, I am expecting us to get right back in the running game and with the red zone additions, I think we should be able to average some high numbers this year.”


  2. #2
    dgr828's Avatar
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    Re: Jackson Not Deterred by Doubters

    With Orlando Pace back and healthy, joined with a more seasoned offensive line unit that includes Alex Barron, Ritchie Incognito, Todd Steussie, Andy McCollum, Mark Setterstrom, Adam Goldberg, Claude Terrell, Dustin Fry as well as TE's Randy McMichael and Joe Klopfenstein, Don't be surprised if you see Steven Jackson surpass both Eric Dickerson (2,105 yds rush season) and Marshall Faulk (2,429 yds from scrimmage season). Always "Aim High" as they say in the Air Force, Rams fans are right behind you, Steven!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  3. #3
    jkramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Jackson Not Deterred by Doubters

    I don't know about Dickerson's mark,but Faulk maybe, he finished less than 100 yards behind it last season,either way he is going to have another monster season.

  4. #4
    IzzyHigh1212's Avatar
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    Re: Jackson Not Deterred by Doubters

    I think he can do it.
    I hope he does, at least.

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