Rams, Jackson expected to meet at Combine
• By Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8197

Rams, Jackson expected to meet at Combine : Sports

INDIANAPOLIS • The much-anticipated meeting between the Rams and Steven Jackson’s agent is expected to take place sometime during the NFL Scouting Combine here, according to league sources. Combine activities began Wednesday and run through next Tuesday.

Jackson, the Rams’ three-time Pro Bowl running back, is expected to void the final year of his contract and thus become a free agent.

Jackson has until March 12 to make that decision. The Combine-week meeting may shed light on that decision, and may also provide an indication of how far the Rams are willing to go financially to keep him in St. Louis.

Jackson is scheduled to make $7 million in base salary in 2013 under his current contract. As much as they’d like to see Jackson in a Rams uniform, the Rams can’t afford to keep him under contract at that figure. They are currently a couple of million dollars over the salary cap, and need to free up cap space to re-sign some of their own free agents, sign outside free agents, and sign their upcoming draft class.

As a practical matter, there is some concern about committing $7 million to a running back who will turn 30 this coming summer.

NO INPUT FROM LIONS

Even though Detroit coach Jim Schwartz spent 10 years working for Jeff Fisher in Tennessee, he said the two didn’t talk about wide receiver Titus Young.

“No, I did not have any conversations with Jeff about Titus,” Schwartz said. “Jeff had been around our team a little bit. His son (Brandon Fisher) was on our staff a couple years ago – Brandon’s a good, young coach. And when Jeff was out of work that year, he was coming up to see Brandon. He probably was sitting in the stands for about three or four of our games. So he had some insight (on Young), but not personal conversations.”

Just nine days after claiming Young on waivers from Detroit, the Rams waived Young.

“Obviously, it didn’t work out for us,” Schwartz said, speaking of Young’s two seasons with the Lions. “It’s very disappointing. He was a guy that we drafted in the second round, and was a guy that physically was very productive for us.

“It looked like he was going to be a very important part of our offense. But in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t all just physically what you could do on the field. As a result, he’s no longer with us, and we’ve moved on.”

RETURN OF WILLIAMS

Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said his familiarity with Gregg Williams, Williams’ talent as a coach, and his taking responsibility for his role in the “Bountygate” scandal all contributed to hiring him.

“There’s a lot of things that had to be right for us to make a decision like that,” Munchak said. “As far as us knowing him. Me working with him (previously). The kind of coach he is. The kind of person. Jerry Gray, our defensive coordinator, who’s worked with him.

“I felt he deserved a second chance. The league felt that. I felt he took responsibility for the things that happened and the things he was involved in. And I don’t see anything like that ever coming close to happening again.”

With Gray already in place as coordinator, Williams’ job title is senior assistant coach/defense. Williams’ game-day responsibilities have yet to be determined, but Munchak said Gray will call the plays.

With Williams on the Titans staff, it’s one more reason why next season’s Tennessee game at the Edward Jones Dome against Fisher and the Rams should be must-see TV.

LOCAL LINE

It’s a banner year for the St. Louis area at the Combine. Among those attending are: DT Sheldon Richardson (Gateway Tech High) and WR T.J. Moe (Fort Zumwalt West) from Mizzou; CB Terry Hawthorne (East St. Louis High) from Illinois; RB Montee Ball (Timberland High) from Wisconsin; OT Terron Armstead (Cahokia High) from Arkansas-Pine Bluff; DE David Bass (University City High) from Missouri Western; and DT Brandon Williams (Rockwood Summit) from Missouri Southern.

In addition, North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams grew up in St. Louis and attended Jefferson City High.