Post Dispatch

Running back Steven Jackson remembered how the rib injury happened Saturday in Seattle, but not exactly when.

"It was just in the middle of the pile, and I caught a helmet to the ribs," Jackson said Tuesday. "It was something that was affecting my breathing a little bit.

"It was during the first half of the game. I was still going in and out of the game, not wanting to miss a second if I could. It's been a long season for me. But playoff time, you've got to lay it out there on the line."

At the time of the injury, it was announced that Jackson had bruised ribs. He finished his first NFL playoff game with 10 carries for 36 yards, marking the first time in three games he had fewer carries than teammate Marshall Faulk. Faulk finished with 13 carries for 55 yards, scoring the Rams' second touchdown in the team's 27-20 victory over the Seahawks.

Back in St. Louis, Jackson underwent further examination on the ribs.

"I wanted to get them looked at and make sure that they were all right," he said. "The MRI just showed it as a muscle strain. It feels a lot better. It has loosened up. Over these two or three days that we had off, it's feeling a lot better and I'll be ready for Saturday."

The Rams travel to Atlanta for Saturday's NFC divisional game in the Georgia Dome. Jackson said he doesn't plan to wear a flak jacket to protect the ribs.

As for his right knee injury, Jackson said, "It's not even an issue right now. I'm still rehabbing it. They're still treating it as an injury. But these last couple weeks, it's feeling great."

Two sources at Rams Park have told the Post-Dispatch that one of the main reasons Jackson didn't play Dec. 19 in Arizona was concern over Jackson's right knee, which suffered a torn ligament Dec. 5 against San Francisco.

In the immediate aftermath of that crushing 31-7 loss to the Cardinals, coach Mike Martz gave a couple of bizarre explanations for not playing Jackson. Martz said he wasn't aware that Jackson didn't play. He also said playing time at halfback was up to Faulk and running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery.

But Jackson shed some light on the subject Tuesday. There was at least some concern at Rams Park that Jackson might subject himself to further injury against the Big Red because he couldn't make sharp cuts on the knee.

"We had a discussion on it," Jackson said, referring to himself and Montgomery. "It really wasn't a full discussion on if I was going to play or not. But we did have a discussion about concern for the knee, and what would be best for me long-term.

"I never came out and said anything about it. I just made jokes about it, saying I didn't know I didn't play. Or what game? But I have a great deal of respect for this coaching staff. I would never backlash them about it."

Not that Jackson didn't wonder about what was going on during the Arizona contest.

"You wonder about it," Jackson said. "But after the game, and during the course of the game, you just think about what was going on. We were getting beat, and I guess they felt there was no need to throw me out there and endanger me when we were down by so much."