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-11-11-2005 #1RamsFan16 Guest
Rising Ram Jackson welcomes back Bulger, Holt, Bruce
ST. LOUIS -- Steven Jackson, who carried the load while the rest of the St. Louis Rams ' offensive stars were sidelined by injuries, has no worries about how his role might change now that the rest of the big guns are back.
Quarterback Marc Bulger is a certainty for Sunday's game at Seattle, Torry Holt is probable and Isaac Bruce, although questionable with turf toe, has practiced all week and is optimistic of returning to the lineup. That's all good news for Jackson, who has totaled 276 yards rushing the last two games, both wins.
"It helps things a lot," Jackson said Thursday. "You have the deep threat and you have your quarterback back, so they're going to respect the pass a little bit more and it opens things up."
The Rams (4-4) won two straight games without those three, giving themselves a chance to save their season heading into the pivotal game against the NFC-West leading Seahawks (6-2). In any case, having them back on the field was a comforting thought.
"It was good, it was like old times," Holt said. "It was definitely a good sight for all of us to be out there participating."
Without them, Jackson had 20 carries against the Saints and 25 against the Jaguars on Oct. 30, when he had a career-best 179 yards. Before that he had not had 20 carries in a game all season, and in Weeks 3 and 4 he had only 12 and 10 attempts.
Bulger pointed out that the Rams had to play more catch-up earlier in the year, especially during a three-game losing streak that preceded the mini-run the team was on before its bye.
"We want to run the ball more," Bulger said. "Earlier in the year we didn't have that luxury because we were behind."
Jackson is also fast developing as a receiver, with his 26 catches ranking fourth on the team. He scored the winning touchdown against the Jaguars on a 19-yard screen pass.
Jackson long ago emerged from the shadow of former Rams feature back Marshall Faulk, now a backup. Jackson is fifth in the NFC with 659 yards rushing, a 4.8-yard average and six touchdowns and needs only 14 yards to match his rookie-year total.
That's good enough for now. He doesn't compare his numbers with those of prolific Seahawks back Shaun Alexander, who leads the NFL with 949 yards, a 5.4-yard average and 14 touchdowns.
"You can't look at another guy's stats and try to compare them with yours, at the end of the year we'll see how it comes out," Jackson said. "I'm just going to play the game I know how, I think that's what's unique about me and I think that's why the people love me.
"There's something unique about me, we just can't figure out what it is."
Bulger, who missed two games with a shoulder injury, has practiced all week after vowing during the bye week that he'd be back for certain. He said he had a little soreness after Monday's workout but cut back a bit on Wednesday and was feeling good enough.
"I'm 100 percent. That's the easy way to say it," Bulger said. "The rest of the year I'll be 100 percent as long as I'm playing."
Holt missed two games with a strained ligament in his right knee and will play wearing a brace.
"The more and more I get used to it, the more and more comfortable I feel with it," Holt said. "It restricts me a little bit -- I can't pick them up and put them down as quickly as I would like to -- but it allows me to have stability.
"Most important, it allows me upstairs, mentally, to be at ease a little bit."
Holt said Bruce, who has missed five games with turf toe, seemed optimistic about his chances. Holt was impressed with Bruce's route running.
"He always thinks good things, so I'm sure he's thinking positive and hopefully he'll be ready to go, too, on Sunday," Holt said. "He looked real good, he looked crisp. It's a good sign."