Thursday, December 30, 2004

By Nick Wagoner
Staff Writer

With so much left to play for, it is becoming apparent that no Ram, healthy or not is willing to miss Sunday’s game against the New York Jets. Fortunately for St. Louis, rookie running back Steven Jackson falls into the healthy category.

Coming off a dominant 148-yard, 24-carry performance against Philadelphia that earned Monday Night Football’s Player of the Week award, Jackson entered this week with some uncertainty about his status.

After making his first start against San Francisco on Dec. 5, Jackson bruised his knee and it turned out to be a slightly torn medial collateral ligament. Jackson missed the following two games, along with quarterback Marc Bulger and those losses played a major role in a pair of losses.

In other words, Jackson ran for almost 150 yards with a torn MCL, making his performance that much more impressive.

“I was out there playing with a slightly torn MCL,” Jackson said. “It’s one of those things I was trying to play through and just try to have that mental mindset and just fight through it. As the carries kept going on, it became a little bit overwhelming.”

Jackson’s return, though often times spectacular, didn’t make for all good news. He bruised his knee again on the cold, hard Astroturf at the Edward Jones Dome. Many flashed back to the original Jackson knee injury and were worried he would be lost for two weeks again, or more.

Jackson said the injury was kind of similar to the one he suffered against the *****.

“I wasn’t fully 100 percent in that game coming in, anyways,” Jackson said. “I had took a couple of pretty good blows on it during the course of the game. There wasn’t as much as last time, but there was some swelling and it’s something we will just have to look and check the progress as the week goes by.”

After Jackson had an MRI on Tuesday, everything came out clean and Jackson was ready to go again. Any further concerns were eliminated Thursday when Jackson took to the practice field and participated in every drill, showing little to no signs of any discomfort.

Coach Mike Martz said he thought Jackson showed no ill effects during the workout.

“Steven’s good, he’s fine,” Martz said.

Jackson did not take every repetition in every drill, but that is mostly precautionary. He will continue to practice the rest of the week and will play, barring any aggravation or another injury. He is listed as probable on the injury report.

GROUNDED JETS: The Jets will be without Pro Bowl defensive end John Abraham for Sunday’s game because of a right knee injury. Abraham has 9.5 sacks on the season and has been replaced at end the past pair of games by Bryan Thomas.

New York has a history of struggles against the Rams, with a record of 2-8 against the Rams’ franchise. The Jets haven’t beaten the Rams since Sept. 25, 1983, losing most recently to 34-14 on Oct. 21, 2001.

A.WILLIAMS OUT: Free safety Aeneas Williams was placed on injured reserve earlier this week because of a neck stinger and will miss the remainder of the season.

At 36, Williams has not made any decision about his future. Replacing Williams on the active roster is guard Matt Lehr. The Rams have also added offensive lineman Toby Cecil to the practice squad.

There is still one spot available on the active roster for Sunday and it is likely that a player will be called up from the practice squad to fill it. Possibilities include linebacker Tony Newson and tight end Nick Burley. Anybody promoted to the roster would probably be limited to special teams if active.

INJURY REPORT: The Rams came out of the Philadelphia game relatively healthy, but there were a few additions to the injury report this week.

In addition to Jackson, tight end Cameron Cleeland (concussion), defensive end Bryce Fisher (ankle), cornerback Travis Fisher (knee) and fullback Joey Goodspeed (shoulder) are probable for Sunday’s game.

Right guard Adam Timmerman, who has played through shoulder problems for most of the past few weeks, is questionable against the Jets because of an MCL injury suffered against the Eagles. Chances are, Timmerman will play. He has been the team’s Ironman since his arrival in 1999, playing 156 consecutive games.

Left guard Tom Nütten also practiced and is not on the injury report this week. Nütten has battled turf toe and knee injuries, but will be in uniform and on the field Sunday.

Linebacker Drew Wahlroos is also questionable. Wahlroos has proven to be a special teams' dynamo since his promotion from the practice squad in November, accumulating seven tackles in kick coverage.

All of the players listed on the injury report practiced Thursday with little to no problem.