R.B. FALLSTROM

Associated Press


ST. LOUIS - The day the St. Louis Rams make him their feature back can't come soon enough for Steven Jackson.

The rookie said Thursday he's shown the last few weeks that he's ready to take over from Marshall Faulk.

"I think we're in the stage of passing the torch, that's how I feel," Jackson said. "I think we're in a transitiion of turning the offense over toward me.

"It's just a matter of time."

Jackson, the Rams' first-round pick this year and the first running back taken in the draft, had 673 yards and a 5-yard average this year while Faulk, in his 11th season, had 774 yards and a 4-yard average.

Beyond the mere numbers, Jackson has impressed with a combination of size and speed.

"Steven obviously is a very tough runner, a bruiser," wide receiver Torry Holt. "I've never played with a running back with his size, who can move like that."

A healthy Jackson, back from a knee injury, inexplicably didn't play at all three weeks ago in a loss at Arizona. But the last two weeks he's had a major role in the offense, and his 22-yard reception set up Jeff Wilkins' game-winning 31-yard field goal in an overtime victory over the Jets that earned the Rams (8-8) their fifth playoff berth in six seasons.

Jackson sounded anxious for the job share with Faulk to end.

"Over the next couple of years I'm going to separate myself from Marshall," Jackson said. "Only one guy can be on the field at one time, so two or three years from now if I haven't done that it must be saying something about my level of play."

Jackson has plenty of confidence heading into Saturday's game against the Seahawks (9-7). The Rams won both regular-season meetings, and rallied from a 17-point deficit late in the fourth quarter in Seattle to win in overtime in October.

So, he thinks the Rams have the advantage.

"I think we do," Jackson said. "We swept them."

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NOT SO FAST:@ After watching offensive guard Tom Nutten run on the sidelines on Wednesday, coach Mike Martz was excited about the prospect of him playing Saturday against the Seahawks. On Thursday, Nutten, who reinjured his left knee in the second half against the Jets, was a lot more gloomy about his prospects.

"I'm not going to wager how much, but there's a slim chance," Nutten said. "It is what it is. I can't predict how it's going to feel and I haven't done anything full-speed yet."

Earlier in the week, Nutten was as optimistic as Martz.

"But walking around is a whole 'nother story than actually doing stuff," he said before limping off to practice.

After practice Martz said Nutten had "improved a great deal" the last two days. But he also called Nutten's availability questionable.

Rookie Larry Turner, the team's seventh-round pick, would make his second career start if Nutten isn't ready to play. Turner is one of four players to start at the injury-plagued position this year.

"He's not going to play if it's a concern at all," Martz said of Nutten. "He has to be feeling really good."

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NOT TOO HOT:@ Wide receiver Torry Holt had an interesting description for low-key quarterback Marc Bulger's demeanor. Lukewarm.

He meant that as a compliment.

"He's never too high, he's never too low, he's just right there," Holt said. "He's lukewarm. That's what it's about. Your quarterback can't be too high-strung."

Holt's remarks might have included a veiled shot at backup quarterback Chris Chandler, who had a disastrous two games as the starter while Bulger was sidelined with a bruised throwing shoulder.

"I wouldn't want to go out on the football field with a quarterback that sits over in the corner and doesn't talk to anybody," Holt said. "Marc doesn't do that, he's real cool and he's somebody we can talk to."