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Jackson Pleased with First Performance
INDIANAPOLIS – For the first seven years of Rams running back Steven Jackson’s career, Jeff Fisher admired the hulking running back from afar.
On Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in the preseason opener between the Rams and Colts, Fisher got to experience what it was like watching Jackson from the same sideline, knowing that Jackson was on his side.
“He’s a big back, he’s still got it,” Fisher said. “It’s fun to watch him, it’s fun to be on his side rather than watching him run. He pushed through some camp soreness and wanted to get in there and get a few carries and he did. I thought the guys did a good job for him.”
Jackson didn’t get the type of bell cow workload that figures to await him during the regular season in Fisher’s preferred run-heavy offense but in the extended cameo appearance he did make, Jackson made a strong first impression on his new coach and his teammates.
Appearing in the team’s first series of the game and then a play on the team’s second possession, Jackson rushed four times for 17 yards and caught one pass for 6 more yards. It was nothing flashy but relatively successful and a good start for Jackson in a new offense with a reshuffled offensive line in front of him.
“It went well,” Jackson said. “We were out there and we had a couple runs that we wanted to get a feel for me and get some stuff on film and whatnot. I felt really good out there, it felt pretty fluid.”
Despite the different look in front of him on the line and an extremely vanilla playbook to work with, Jackson settled in just fine in his first preseason action of the season.
“We were really basic,” Jackson said. “We had some core runs and core passes that we really wanted to rep and get some good film and get guys out there hitting someone outside of what we have been doing the past two weeks. I believe we have some good film that we can go over and learn from and continue as an offense to grow.”
Jackson sat out the final two practices of the week and part of another as he went through some basic camp pains but didn’t seem to be bothered much by the missed work. He’ll likely get more work in the next couple of preseason games as he continues to build a rapport with his line and get completely comfortable in the offense.
On the first drive in which Jackson was prominently involved, the Rams actually ran 10 plays, picking up three first downs before the drive fizzled following a delay of game penalty.
“I thought we moved the ball pretty well,” Jackson said. “The running game was pretty good; I had a good feel for them and my feet. I felt really comfortable out there. Of course anytime you are in field goal range and have a penalty that knocks you out of field goal range, it’s kind of frustrating. But I would suggest we have got to make sure we focus all the way through.”
The penalty pushed the Rams back and eventually forced a fourth-and-3 that Fisher elected to go for at Indianapolis’ 37. Quarterback Sam Bradford couldn’t connect with wideout Danny Amendola but Jackson liked the message it sent moving forward.
“I think that’s just a mentality,” Jackson said. “It shows guys that we are not just going to traditionally go by the rules of what football says. We are going to be a tough nosed, gritty team and we are going to go out there and challenge whoever we play week in and week out.”
After one play on the team’s second possession, Jackson ceded the running back job to rookie Isaiah Pead but not before he had sufficiently reminded everyone that he’s ready to put together another big season.
“Jack looked like Jack,” Bradford said. “He looked like the great running back that he is. He ran the ball strong today and obviously that’s going to be something we are going to be good at this year. Hopefully we are going to be able to come out and pound the ball at people. Anytime you have got a running back like Steven, it’s nice to know you can just hand the ball off and know that you are going to end up with positive yards.”
INJURY FREE: When it comes to the preseason, there may be no more important statistic at the end of each game than this: number of injuries.
Rare is the case where a team can make it through any game without an injury or two but usually the hope is that none of those injuries turn out to be serious.
Well, at least on initial returns after the game, it appears the Rams had the best statistic they could possibly muster in that department against the Colts: a big, fat zero.
“I think one of the most important things as we speak right now, there is not a single player in the training room,” Fisher said. “That’s a good thing, especially when you take into consideration the practices we’ve had and how training camp has been. So it’s good from a physical standpoint.”
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: While the Rams are breaking in a new coaching staff and new schemes on both sides of the ball, the Colts are doing the same with the added caveat that they are also developing a new quarterback.
That quarterback, of course, is No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Andrew Luck. Much like Bradford only two seasons ago, Luck represents the future of the Colts organization.
On Sunday, Luck gave a lot of hope to his new city with an impressive 10-of-16 for 188 yards and two touchdowns for a rating of 142.7.
“I thought he did a great job today,” Bradford said. “I’m sure he was excited to get out there and make his debut today. I thought he did a real nice job and I’m sure as preseason and season come, he will just continue to get more comfortable out there.”
Fisher echoed those sentiments and was particularly impressed by Luck’s ability to evade the pass rush and make something out of nothing. Luck played for the majority of the first half before calling it a day.
“He’s going to be a really good player,” Fisher said. “We knew that before we played him today. He’s got that sense and he’s smart. We had unblocked rushers twice and he got out of there, avoided sacks by spinning out. He’s a good player. He’s got mobility and he sees well and he’s got arm strength and Coach (Bruce) Arians has done a great job with him so far.”
SITTING IT OUT: The Rams only listed receiver Danario Alexander and defensive tackle Trevor Laws on their pregame list of players that would not play because of injury issues. They had a few more that also did not play Sunday.
Safety Darian Stewart, receiver Brandon Gibson, center Scott Wells and cornerback Bradley Fletcher also did not play with health issues.
Quarterback Tom Brandstater and tight ends Brody Eldridge and Jamie Childers did not play because of the coach’s decision.
Of note for Indianapolis, former Rams receiver Donnie Avery also did not play because of a leg ailment.
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