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Thread: Rams team report
Rams team report
In 2008, he tried to play with a quad injury in a key division game against Arizona. Last year, he played five of the final six games of the season with a herniated disk in his back and nerve pain in his leg even though the team had only one victory.
Maybe it's no surprise then, that Rams running back Steven Jackson did everything he humanly could to be on the field Sunday for his team's game against the Seattle Seahawks despite the partially torn groin he had suffered the week before against the Washington Redskins.
His team. Jackson is one of several veteran leaders on a very young football team, and as he peeled off three layers of protective padding following the surprisingly easy 20-3 win, he stated simply, "I was not able to run full speed. But as a leader, you can't preach one thing and do something else."
What he did was gut out a 70-yard rushing effort, adding 54 receiving yards, the bulk of which came on a 49-yard run with a screen pass that led to a third-quarter touchdown and a 17-3 lead.
Asked if the injury affected him, Jackson said, "Absolutely," then laughed and added, "Did you see that run?"
He admitted to consciously thinking on that run not to try and run too fast and "overextend myself, taking smaller steps," minimizing the chance of aggravating the injury.
But he simply wasn't going to miss this game.
"I knew I had enough to give what coach would need out of me," Jackson said. "I wanted to come out and be a part of something. I felt that this team is going in the right direction, and I just wanted to be a part of it today.
"It's been a long time — 2004 (since beating Seattle). I know we have a philosophy around here that we don't look back. But sometimes you just can't help but think about some of the hardship that this organization has been through. For us to be able to get a win against Seattle at home, a divisional win, it means a lot to me. I think it means a lot to the guys that are in this locker room."
During the week, Jackson did very little on the field. Off the field was another story. There was still a pocket of blood in his groin area on Thursday, "so there was quite a bit of swelling," he said. "Just continued to work hard. I would literally ... I would take a stim (muscle stimulation) machine home with me. I was doing acupuncture; I was doing everything. I was literally stimming myself at four in the morning trying to make sure that I could get whatever edge, whatever I could do to get back on the field. All I can say is, I just thank God it worked out."
Then, there was the work of the training and medical staff to protect him as much as possible.
"Look at all of this stuff that kept me together," he said after the game. "They got so many things wrapped on me, I couldn't move my leg in the wrong direction even if I tried. Look at this. Strapped in pretty good. And I have two more pairs of compression shorts on under this too."
The compression shorts had what looked like the bubble-wrap used in packing boxes. He had tape going in several directions with straps, criss-crossing his upper and lower thigh and waist.
He said, "It is just to lock the groin in and make sure I do not get overextended, kind of what happened last week. At the same time, you give away the lack of opening up and being able to run fast. But luckily," he said with a smile, "I'm 240, right?"
His effort wasn't lost on his teammates. Said quarterback Sam Bradford, when asked if he thought Jackson would play as much as he did, "Yeah, I did. Just knowing Jack and knowing the type of competitor he is. I think he understood how important this game was for this football team. I never doubted that he would be out there today. I think that's a huge credit to him and the type of player and the type of competitor he is, because I know he was battling out there. He wasn't a hundred percent, but to come out and play the way he did, it really helped this football team."
Coach Steve Spagnuolo said he "really didn't know" whether Jackson would play, but then acknowledged, "My guess would have been that there's no way he keeps himself out of the game — that would have been my guess. Steven's a warrior and we left it on him. He went out and warmed up; didn't have to do very much. He was ready to go. I think his mindset was that he was going to go. I just asked him to be sure that it wasn't going to set him back at all. He knows his body. I've said this before, he deserves that privilege of deciding whether or not he can go or not."
The day began ominously on the first play of the game with a run by Jackson for minus-3 yards. Of his 22 carries, four were for minus yardage and another seven were for two yards or less. Those 11 attempts totaled minus-7 yards. But, his other 11 went for 77, and as a testament to his staying power, Jackson had 12 rushes for 42 yards in the final 15 minutes as the Rams owned a 17-3 lead for most of the fourth quarter.
Jackson's presence certainly was instrumental in the victory. Asked about the lift the team received by having Jackson on the field, Bradford said, "It's huge. He's a huge part of this offense. A lot of what we do goes through him. Even in the passing game with him in the backfield, defenses will have to respect the run. So any time he's in the huddle, there's no doubt that it boosts the spirits of everyone in the huddle."
Jackson also became the second-leading rusher in franchise history on a 15-yard run with just under 12 minutes to play in the game, passing Marshall Faulk. Jackson finished the game with 6,991 career yards, 254 behind Eric Dickerson. The officials stopped the game, and exchanged balls so Jackson could have the ball he carried to pass Faulk.
"That's special," Spagnuolo said of Jackson. "He deserves it. He worked for it. I thought that was a great thing. I really thought what the officials did too, that's a little thing, but I mean, I thought that was pretty classy that they stopped and made sure that he got the football for that."
Saying it felt good to pass Faulk against Seattle, Jackson said, "Day one when I stepped into this organization, I set a tone that I want to leave here setting a presence, putting my footprint on this organization. Hats off to my offensive line, all the guys over the years that I've played with, to help me get to this point. It's very meaningful, but I'm eyeing first place. Today, more importantly, two wins in a row is what I'm really proud of."
—The Rams had a chance to take a 14-3 lead late in the first half after an interception return by CB Bradley Fletcher put the ball at the Seattle 3-yard line. On second down from the 2, QB Sam Bradford forced a pass to WR Mark Clayton and old nemesis Earl Thomas intercepted in the end zone.
Said Bradford afterward, "Bad play, bad throw, bad read. Pretty much everything a quarterback can do bad, I pretty much did it on that play right there. I think I probably got a little excited, wanted to put points up, wanted to go up 14-3 in that situation where I need to understand that it's not worth forcing anything down there. I should have thrown that ball away and got us to the next down."
As for putting bad plays behind him, Bradford said, "You've got to let it go. You can't think about it. Obviously, any time you do something like that, it bothers you. It frustrates you, but playing this position you've got to have a short memory. Whether you make a good play or bad play, you've got to forget about it and understand that the most important play is the next play, and that's what I tried to do today."
It was also frustrating that Thomas, the former University of Texas defensive back who has victimized Bradford in the past, made the pick.
"Yeah, he reminded me of that," Bradford said. Of course, the final score was in Bradford's favor as was the previous day's Oklahoma victory over Texas.
—Rams CB Kevin Dockery had another tough afternoon. He sniffed out a fake on what would have been a 51-yard field-goal attempt by the Seahawks, and tackled P Jon Ryan for a nine-yard loss.
However, while making the diving tackle, Dockery's helmet came off and Ryan's cleat caught Dockery in the head, causing a laceration that needed 13 stitches to repair.
He came back to play, but then reinjured his hamstring, an injury that occurred in the season opener against Arizona.
Said Dockery, "It'll be all right. I just kind of tweaked it."
—The special teams were able to contain Seattle kickoff returner Leon Washington and punt returner Golden Tate. Washington's long was 30 yards and he averaged 26.7 yards on three returns. Tate was only able to return three of Donnie Jones' punts for a total of 18 yards.
Said long snapper Chris Massey, who contributed to the coverage with two tackles, "Donnie did a pretty good job pinning them in the corners, and the coverage team, we rose up and played hard and covered well down the field. Josh made some good kickoffs. That was the emphasis all week — how good their return game was."
—Coach Steve Spagnuolo admitted to being "concerned" during the practice week about how the team would respond after beating Washington the week before.
After the win over Seattle, he said, "I thought the team came out and performed, like we'd talked about all week. I was little bit concerned there during the week that the hunger was gone. That achieving one win would be all that they wanted to get because I knew down deep that wasn't the case, but I was concerned about it. And being a divisional game, you need a little bit of intensity coming out of there, especially being at home. You have to win your division games at home. And I thought they came out with the right mindset. We got up early. Stumbled there a little bit, when we got the turnover and couldn't get in the end zone, but again these guys with the resolve and determination, they didn't stick their head in the sand. They came right out and played pretty good football, so I was happy about that."
Asked if anything happened during the week that created that concern, Spagnuolo smiled and said, "That's just me being a coach. That's just me. They could have been perfect all week and I would have thought that way."
Spagnuolo's players are now starting to talk and think like him.
Said PK Josh Brown after the win, "I'm not overly excited about it. I think coach said it best. We expected to win this game. We prepared well. We worked hard this week. And it paid off. It absolutely paid off. We put them in some situations they couldn't get out of, and we just kept pushing and pushing and pushing."
"It feels great," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "Especially starting out 0-2, and being so close to wins those first two weeks. To come back and battle back, get ourselves to 2-2 and just be in the conversation to be in the divisional lead, I think that's big for this team."
—During the practice week, RB Kenneth Darby said he had a celebration planned if he was able to score another touchdown. He wouldn't give it away, but said it had something to do with a shark.
So it was that Darby scored on a 21-yard run with a screen pass, but he dived in the end zone and then was mobbed by teammates. He still did a brief shark dance.
Said Darby, "It probably wasn't the perfect way to do it. I think I need a little practice. I haven't done it in a while. I told you I was going to hit it, though, so I tried to be a man of my word."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
—CB Kevin Dockery was "a little sore" Monday after tweaking his hamstring against Seattle, according to coach Steve Spagnuolo. Dockery might end up missing two weeks.
—DT Gary Gibson experienced some shoulder soreness Monday coming out of Sunday's game against Seattle. The injury will be monitored and he might have an MRI Tuesday of the pain persists.
—TE Darcy Johnson suffered a thigh injury Sunday against Seattle, but it's not yet known if it will affect his practice availability this week.
—RB Steven Jackson didn't feel he had any setbacks following his 25-touch day Sunday while paying with an injured groin.
—P Donnie Jones might be limited in practice this week as he deals with a strained calf in his kicking leg.
—S Oshiomogho Atogwe played limited snaps with a quad injury Sunday, but reported no setbacks and should be able to do more this week.
—DT Clifton Ryan, who has missed three games after being hospitalized because of migraines, felt good Monday, according to coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo said he is "trying to be optimistic" that Ryan will be able to practice Wednesday.
—TE Billy Bajema, who suffered a knee injury in Week 2 against Oakland, is expected to get some limited work in practice this week.
—TE Michael Hoomanawanui, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener against Arizona, is expected to get some limited work in practice this week.
—LB Chris Chamberlain, who suffered a fractured toe in the season opener against Arizona, is expected to get some limited work in practice this week.
—S Darian Stewart, who suffered a hamstring injury in Week 3 against Washington, is expected to get some limited work in practice this week.
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