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Steven Jackson ready to take on a heavier load
BY STEVE KORTE
ST. LOUIS - There's an aura of newness to the St. Louis Rams' training camp with a new coaching staff and a roster loaded with new players, but the absence of an old fixture -- running back Marshall Faulk -- also stood out.
Faulk, 33, wasn't on hand Thursday for the start of training camp for the first time since arriving in St. Louis in 1999.
Faulk is expected to undergo major surgery on his knee in the next few days. He'll miss the entire the 2006 season, and with an extensive rehabilitation that could take up to a year. He potentially could be facing retirement.
"We're definitely going to miss No. 28," Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said. "I don't think it's as huge as it was four or five years ago when he was playing every down.
"But, I think the things that we'll miss are the practice times and on the sideline knowing as much as he did about football."
Rams running back Steven Jackson said training camp had a different feel for him this year compared to previous years.
"One of the biggest things is that Marshall is not here," Jackson said. "I don't have to deal with that anymore.
"No. 2, there is a new regime. Coach is making a point that the running game is something that he expects to there. There's no more excuses."
Jackson bristled when pressed for elaboration on his comment about Faulk.
"I don't want any controversy with it," Jackson said. "Me and Marshall are good friends. I have not talked with him. I hope he has a speedy recover and comes back, but what I am saying is that I don't have deal with the comparisons to Marshall.
"I'm not a Marshall-type of running back. It's not disrespectful to him and it's no disrespect to me. We're just different backs."
Faulk was an elusive jitterbug who made defenders miss. Jackson is brawny plow horse who makes defenders duck.
Bulger said he was confident that Jackson, who rushed for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns last year in his first season as the Rams' primary ballcarrier, was capable of shouldering a heavy load.
"You look at how big he is, I think that's what kind of back he is," Bulger said. "Obviously he's been nicked up here and there, but if we can get him the ball, I think he's a 25-30 touches a game back.
"We want a backup that can take a load off him a little bit, but I want a guy back there in the fourth quarter that we can give him the ball six-seven times on a drive and just close the game out like Marshall used to do. I think we've missed that the last couple of years. I think he's definitely capable of doing that."
Jackson said he's cut some weight from his 6-foot-2 frame.
"I've gotten a lot of work in with Torry Holt," Jackson said. "I have done his regiment after practice. I did slim down an extra five pounds. I'm 228 right now. I'm feeling a little leaner and faster.
"I'm just trying to brace myself to get physically and mentally ready for a long season."
Jackson complained about the team's lack of commitment to the running game last year. He went as far as demanding, "Give me the ball," and based on the emphasis placed on the running game in Thursday's practice, he may get it this season.
"We're practicing the run," Jackson said of why he's so confident that the Rams will be a better running team this season. "From the coaching staff's point, I think they're taking a lot of time to make sure guys understand what we have. They're talking us through it to make sure everyone is on the same (page).
"You have to get that attitude of being a running team. I think we're working on that right now."
Rams right guard Adam Timmerman said he hoped he hasn't seen Faulk carry the ball for the last time.
"Hopefully, he gets the knee rehabbed," Timmerman said. "The main thing is, it's not something that will bother him the rest of his life, too. I hate to see stuff like that.
"If he wants to come back, we'd love to have him back. That would be great. We've seen him make a lot of great plays. Even Marshall not at 100 percent is still better than most."
-07-28-2006 #2youngblood 39 Guest
Re: Steven Jackson ready to take on a heavier load
Scott linehan better not be the a mike martz and just pass this better be
jackson's breakout year.