Jackson is playing key rushing role
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Tuesday, Oct. 19 2004
When Rams running back Marshall Faulk bulled into the end zone from the 1-yard
line in the second quarter Monday night, it marked the 100th rushing touchdown
of his 11-year NFL career.
That's 99 more than rookie Steven Jackson has recorded. But despite that
disparity, Jackson more and more is becoming an important contributor to the
team's attack, as he and Faulk increasingly share time in the backfield.
"Coach (Mike) Martz and his staff are doing a great job in involving me in the
offense," Jackson said after the Rams turned aside Tampa Bay 28-21 at the
sold-out Edward Jones Dome. "They want to utilize my talent, so every
opportunity I get out there, I try to make something happen."
Faulk and Jackson split the ball-carrying duties virtually down the middle
against the Buccaneers. Faulk had 15 attempts for 40 yards, and Jackson carried
13 times for 48 yards. Each also had three receptions, Faulk picking up 29
yards and Jackson 30.
Jackson rambled 28 yards with a short pass on a third-and-14 play early in the
fourth quarter that kept the Rams' game-winning drive alive. The play took them
to the Tampa Bay 42-yard line, and three plays later quarterback Marc Bulger
connected with wide receiver Torry Holt for a 36-yard touchdown and a 28-21
"We needed the drive to keep going," Jackson said. "I caught the ball, I saw
the yardstick, and I knew I had quite a ways to go. I just had to make a hard
run out of it."
Jackson had 10 carries for 46 yards two weeks ago in the Rams' 24-14 victory in
San Francisco. Last week in Seattle, he tacked on 64 more yards on five
attempts as the Rams rallied for a 33-27 overtime win.
"I feel like a guy who's contributing, helping this team win, and the more I
get in there, the more plays I can make," said Jackson, the team's first-round
draft pick in April. "If you have to share time, I wouldn't pick any other guy
in the National Football League."
Faulk has served as a low-key mentor for Jackson, an Oregon State product.
"It's on-the-job training," Jackson said. "If I make a mistake, he coaches me
up. But he doesn't over-teach me. He lets me go out there and do what I know
how to do."
Fullback Joey Goodspeed said he's seen Jackson's confidence building over time.
"He knows what he's doing, and he's a lot more aggressive," Goodspeed said.
"Steven brings that youth and excitement, and he gives Marshall a break; you're
able to keep two running backs fresh. And they're both different runners.
Marshall's more agile and makes you miss; Steven's a hard-nosed, just
hit-the-hole guy. It keeps defenses on their heels, keeps them guessing."
Guard Scott Tercero said that with the backfield tag-team perking, "Our running
game's that much better. Steven's going to be a great player, and he's getting
so much better every week."
Only six players in NFL history have scored 100 rushing touchdowns, and Martz
said the team would organize some sort of celebration to mark the milestone.
Martz was especially tickled that Faulk got No. 100 on a gritty surge just over
the goal line.
"How about that?" Martz said. "We're going to do something special for that."
For now, just being 4-2 and in first place in the NFC West is special enough.