By Bill Coats
Saturday, Nov. 08 2008
It became official at 10:30 Friday morning, when the Rams took the practice
field and Steven Jackson wasn't among them. At that point, Kenneth Darby knew
that he was about to start his first game in the NFL.

"It's a blessing," said Darby, who was signed off Atlanta's practice squad Oct.
14. "This is an opportunity I've been waiting on, and I'm just going to take
full advantage of it and do my best."

The 5-foot-10, 211-pound Darby, a second-year pro from the University of
Alabama, is expected to get the bulk of the work at running back Sunday, when
the Rams (2-6) meet the New York Jets (5-3) in East Rutherford, N.J.

Samkon Gado, signed off the street just this past Tuesday, also will get some

"I know they're excited," coach Jim Haslett said. "Going against the Jets, with
the great run defense they have, this'll be a great challenge for them."

Antonio Pittman recovered rapidly from the hamstring injury he suffered last
Sunday and also will be sprinkled into the backfield rotation. Travis Minor
(concussion) passed his neurological exam and practiced Friday, but he won't
play Sunday, Haslett said.

"I'm a guy that if I'm walking, I'm running," Pittman said. "I'll give it all I
can. I wouldn't put myself out there if I couldn't do it all."

Haslett acknowledged that he was surprised to have Pittman available. "He told
me he was going to be ready to go all week," Haslett said. "I said, 'You're
going to have to practice Friday,' and he came out and did it."

Because Jackson couldn't do the same, he'll be in street clothes Sunday.
Jackson strained a thigh muscle Oct. 19 against Dallas, sat out the following
Sunday at New England, then hobbled through an imprudent attempt to return last
week vs. Arizona.

An MRI exam Monday disclosed increased inflammation in the muscle. "It was
actually worse than the first MRI," taken after he originally was hurt, Jackson

He didn't practice this week, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he also missed
the game Nov. 16 at San Francisco.

Darby was a seventh-round draft choice by Tampa Bay in 2007. He got into just
one regular-season game with the Buccaneers, compiling 9 yards on two carries
and 16 yards on two receptions. Darby was released and spent the first six
weeks of this season on the Falcons' practice squad.

He insisted that he wouldn't be nervous at the Meadowlands. "My coach used to
tell me in high school (in Huntsville, Ala.), 'If you prepare yourself during
the week mentally and physically, you'll be ready when game day comes,'" Darby
said. "So, I get more nervous during the week preparing than anything. I think
I've got all the nerves out. I'm ready to get out there."

Gado, 5-10 and 226, had been out of work since Miami cut him in February. In 25
games over five seasons, he amassed 942 yards on 252 carries and caught 39
passes for 268 yards. He scored seven touchdowns.

Although he's had just three practices with the Rams, Gado said he felt "pretty
comfortable" with his assignments. "I'm familiar with this offense," he said.
"My biggest concern is the contact, not so much the playbook."


Although defensive end Eric Moore (neck) was listed as doubtful on Friday's
injury report, Haslett said he wouldn't suit up Sunday. ... Rookie linebacker
Chris Chamberlain, who participates on special teams, missed practice because
of illness but should be OK by Sunday. ... Running back Brian Leonard reports
that his season-ending shoulder injury wasn't as serious as originally feared
and that he should be recovered in time for the offseason training program. ...
Cardinals defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who slammed wideout Torry
Holt to the ground after a play last week, was fined $5,000 by the NFL for
unnecessary roughness.