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  • Jackson Off to Strong Start

    Thursday, September 21, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    When Steven Jackson wakes up on Monday morning, he is always sore. But this year, it’s a good kind of sore as Jackson’s workload has increased to a level that has placed him third in the league in rushing.

    “It feels pretty good,” Jackson said. “I’m fully aware that it’s only week two, so hopefully we can keep making strides and keep ourselves paced through it. This league is a marathon, not a race.”

    While there’s no doubting that Jackson has a long way to go in the NFL’s version of a marathon, there are signs that his good start out of the blocks could keep pace over the course of an entire season.

    After two games, Jackson has run with the combination of power and speed he flashed in his first two seasons in the league. As the game goes on, he gets stronger and he is finishing runs with more authority than in years past.

    “He's certainly one of those type backs, a big punishing type runner and they're harder to tackle if you're able to establish a running game as the game goes on,” head coach Scott Linehan said. “They tend to wear you down a little bit because it's a big guy to tackle.”

    Jackson’s punishing style has him third in the NFL and second in the NFC in rushing yards with 224 on just 44 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per attempt. And though his longest run of the season was a 37-yard scamper in the season opener against Denver, Jackson has showed more consistency than in his first two seasons.

    In the win against the Broncos, he rushed six times for 67 yards in the fourth quarter. Even with the Rams trailing in the loss to San Francisco, Jackson punished the ***** late in the game, carrying four times for 27 yards.

    It’s that type of punishing style that has placed Jackson behind only Cincinnati’s Rudi Johnson and Atlanta’s Warrick Dunn in the early race for the rushing title.

    “A lot goes on through the course of the game,” Jackson said. “Average fans don’t realize. You have to have a feel for what the defense is trying to do. Also, you try to wear them down. Coach is calling the plays to see what they are going to do and what formations (they might use) so as the course of the game goes on , I get a feel of what they are doing and I believe the offensive line does, too. With that being said, that’s how I get my big yards later in the game.”

    So, what exactly is it that has allowed Jackson to get off to such a good start? Actually, there are a number of reasons for his early-season success.

    One of those stems from the move of hiring Linehan as the head coach. Upon his arrival, Linehan vowed to give the Rams a more balanced attack with Jackson as the featured attraction.

    In his first two seasons in the league, Jackson had times where he would lose yards as he searched for holes to run through. Jackson says he would look to break a big run every time in hopes that it would guarantee an increased workload.

    “I think I have the comfort level in knowing that if I don’t get a big gain , I am going to get the ball again,” Jackson said. “Sometimes in previous years I would look for the big gain a lot and sometimes that hurt us. Now, I can stay consistent with my run reads and know that coach is going to give me another chance.”

    Jackson is getting 22 carries a game through two games, up from about 17 last season. In addition to the added touches, Jackson is spending more quality time with his offensive line.

    That additional time studying and understanding what his linemen are doing on every play has allowed Jackson to have a better feel for where everyone will be on a given play.

    “We study with the offensive line and running backs together,” Jackson said. “(We look at) run calls and different reads they are going to make up front so I actually know what things mean now this year. Last year, if the offensive line would make a call, nine times out of 10, I didn’t know what they were talking about. I think that has helped a lot for us to be in the same room and get communication of what’s going on.”

    And though Jackson hasn’t scored a touchdown yet this season, he also hasn’t given the ball up yet, either.

    “I'm pleased with that and I'm pleased with his ball security,” Linehan said. “He's had two straight games in the 20s (carries-wise), which is a good number for him. People have been going at that ball pretty good and so far so good, knock on wood. That's been a big emphasis certainly for our offense. He's done a really nice job as well as coming up with some nice runs.”

    The first pair of games of the season has given Jackson a chance to measure himself against some quality running backs. He enjoys the chance to prove himself on the same field as some of the league’s top backs and will get a prime opportunity to do so this week against Arizona’s Edgerrin James.

    Jackson says he enjoys watching James because he isn’t flashy and just finds a way to move the chains and pick up yards, something Jackson is working to do on a consistent basis.

    “It gives me extra incentive not only to run hard, but to make a statement in the league,” Jackson said. “If you are putting up big numbers or you have an impressive game like a guy like Edgerrin James would, I think some of the critics or guys that might not know about you would raise an eyebrow.”

Related Topics


  • MauiRam
    Pasquarelli on S. Jackson...
    by MauiRam NFL

    Monday, June 5, 2006
    Jackson has thrived when getting 20-plus carries

    By Len Pasquarelli

    Born and raised in Las Vegas, where both his parents worked in casinos, Steven Jackson realizes the unique relationship between numbers and odds.

    OK, so the St. Louis Rams' third-year tailback might not be the guy you want advising you at the blackjack table, as you're agonizing over whether to take another hit while holding 16, and his head usually spins over all of the confusing permutations of the roulette wheel. The fact is, if Jackson is down $100, he pretty much considers himself tapped out and heads home for the evening.

    But here's a winning parlay he understands well after only two NFL seasons: Give Jackson 20 carries, he'll get 100 yards, and the odds are pretty solid that the Rams will win.

    "I know what they're telling me in terms of how many carries they say I'm going to get. But I've heard those kinds of things before. I even went to [running backs coach] Wayne Moses the other day and told him, 'Now don't be teasing me. Don't be telling me what you think I want to hear just to pacify me.' "
    Steven Jackson
    "Now those are numbers," said Jackson, the Rams' first-round choice in the 2004 draft, "that are like magic numbers to me. Even I'd bet on those. And I'm not a very big gambler. I can't run with guys like [Charles] Barkley and that crowd. But, yeah, I know that those [represent] some winning numbers."

    Five times in his still fledgling NFL career, Jackson has logged 20 or more rushing attempts in a game. The results in those contests: an average of 130.6 yards per outing, 5.4 yards per carry, and five victories for the Rams. Of the team's six wins in 2005, half came in games in which Jackson was the offensive workhorse. Only once in the five contests in which Jackson got 20 carries did he fail to crack the 100-yard mark. Twice in those games, he had more than 145 yards, including a career-best 179 against Jacksonville on Oct. 30.

    Roll the dice with Jackson, a big back (6-foot-2, 231 pounds) with quick feet and nifty moves, and the odds are pretty good you won't crap out, as his brief league history indicates. And if offseason rhetoric emanating from first-year coach Scott Linehan means anything, the St. Louis offense expects to roll a whole lot of 7's with its starting tailback in 2006.

    Which is sweet music to the ears of Jackson, who often chafed in the past at the lack of carries he got under former coach Mike Martz, dismissed after a 2006 season in which he missed much of the season because of a bout with endocarditis, an inflammation of a heart valve. In 14 of 29 appearances in 2004-2005, Jackson had 10 carries or less, in part because of the...
    -06-05-2006, 09:56 AM
  • Rambos
    Jackson Hoping for Breakout
    by Rambos
    Jackson Hoping for Breakout
    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Clearly frustrated as he stalked off the field after another performance below his and the Rams’ lofty expectations and standards, running back Steven Jackson simply couldn’t hold it in any longer.

    Jackson vented his frustrations like many players do, yelling on the sideline to nobody in particular. On Wednesday, he stood up before his teammates and issued an apology just in case anybody took Sunday’s outburst the wrong way.

    “I didn’t want anything to get out of hand,” Jackson said. “I didn’t know how guys took it, so I didn’t want them read something and then think what they’re reading is true. I wanted to let them know from my heart and talk to them without being scripted – let them know how I felt and what happened and explain to them that there were no problems.”

    Jackson’s apology was accepted with no questions asked by most of his teammates. Center Brett Romberg said he was proud of the way Jackson stood up and was accountable for what happened.

    “The man was frustrated,” Romberg said. “He has high expectations, he’s an amazing competitor and falling short of any kind of goal he is setting is going to be frustrating on his part. He wanted to come over and voice his opinion and let us know what he’s thinking which is welcome. We just took with it and said forget about it man, let’s roll. We have another game to play this week.”

    And with that, Jackson and the Rams turned the page and put their full focus on getting a ground game that finished with a flourish in 2006 back on track after a pair of performances that met nobody’s goals.

    In the first two games of this season, Jackson has rushed for just 118 yards on 39 carries, an average of 3 yards per attempt, well below the bar Jackson set when he entered the season with a goal of reaching 2,500 yards from scrimmage.

    Additionally, Jackson hasn’t been as much of a threat out of the backfield as he was in 2006, catching four passes for 39 yards. He also has yet to score a touchdown.

    All of those numbers and, more important, an 0-2 record, mounted up to the frustration that came out in the final stages of Sunday’s loss to the *****.

    “I think we all knew where he was coming from,” Jackson said. “He was just probably a little frustrated like all of us. I don’t think Steven needs to apologize to us because he is competitive and it wasn’t directed at anyone so I’m sure everyone accepts his apology. Personally I don’t think anything was necessary.”

    What is necessary for the Rams to get into the win column, though, is a rejuvenated rushing attack that more closely resembles the one that steamrollered over Oakland, Minnesota and Washington at the end of last season.

    Clearly Jackson established himself as one...
    -09-19-2007, 05:40 PM
  • RamsFan4ever
    Jackson's Versatility Adding To His Value
    by RamsFan4ever
    Jackson's Versatility Adding To His Value
    Saturday, December 2, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    It seems like just about every week the Rams defense has been forced to deal with one of the league’s top running backs. The superstar running back galaxy of LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson has marked the schedule.

    Even on weeks when the Rams looked like they were getting a break, they faced a developing star such as San Francisco’s Frank Gore, who has entered the stratosphere of the league’s top backs.

    But, as the season goes on, there is one back that the St. Louis defense is rapidly gaining an appreciation for and they don’t have to go far to find him. Following last week’s tour de force of running and catching, running back Steven Jackson has asserted himself as one of the top running backs in the league.

    In his third year in the league, Jackson is running harder than ever and seems to have matured and embraced all of the small things that go in to being a successful running back.

    “He comes out with an attitude every week,” defensive end Leonard Little said. “I think he’s one of the best backs in the league. There are some great backs in the league, but I think he’s up there with the best of them.”

    For those that haven’t seen him this season, the proof is in the numbers. Jackson is seventh in the NFL in rushing with 932 yards and six touchdowns. He ranks fourth in the league in total yards with 1,485 and is tied for seventh with teammates Torry Holt in receptions with 63.

    It isn’t to say that Jackson hasn’t been good in his first two years in the league, but it’s safe to say he has taken his game to a different level this year. When Jackson declared for the NFL Draft as a junior out of Oregon State, nobody questioned his speed or power. His bruising running style made him a candidate for a first-round pick.

    When draft day came, though, Jackson began to slide a bit because of a perceived lack of versatility. He caught 66 passes for 680 yards and six touchdowns as a Beaver, which should have helped him dispel any myths about his receiving ability.

    Still, as a 6’2, 231-pound running back, Jackson was viewed more as a pure runner than an all-around back.

    “I’m a big back so people assume I am just a downhill runner,” Jackson said. “It’s been good for me this year to show and display my receiving ability.”

    This year, he is doing everything he can to change that perception.

    Jackson put together a 13-catch, 133 receiving yard game against Kansas City on Nov. 5. Last week was perhaps Jackson’s finest performance of the season, rushing for 121 yards on 23 carries with nine catches for 71 yards.

    Along the way, Jackson jokingly referred to himself as a “big” Marshall Faulk. Of course, having to follow in the footsteps of Faulk...
    -12-02-2006, 04:56 PM
  • Rambos
    Jackson, Run Game on a Roll
    by Rambos
    On the heels of two straight dominant performances in the running game and with the Browns’ 30th-ranked run defense awaiting in Cleveland, it stands to reason that Rams running back Steven Jackson could go for the hat trick of 100-yard games this weekend.

    Of course, Jackson knows that will be easier said than done because time and again in his career, he’s been asked about facing a team that’s struggled against the run and then seen that team throw everything it has at stopping him en route to its best run defense of the season.

    “Story of my career,” Jackson said. “When certain teams come to town, certain players come to town, statistically those things don’t matter. I’m pretty sure that all week they’ve been game planning and knowing what they like to do, especially having (Head) Coach (Pat) Shurmur over there. He was personally with me for two years, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be up for the challenge and the test. I don’t look at 30th, being ranked 30th saying it’s going to be an easy Sunday. It’ll be a very challenging Sunday.”

    The basic premise of Jackson’s thesis is that teams that have struggled against the run, when faced with a team that features the running game so prominently, will often do everything in its power to force the other part of the offense to beat it.

    In this case, the Browns have struggled some against the run and have been outstanding against the pass (ranking first in the league). For their part, the Rams have been riding a healthy Jackson the past two weeks and he’s rewarded them with 289 yards and two touchdowns combined.

    There’s little doubt that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the offense will again look to Jackson to carry the load this week and to setup quarterback Sam Bradford and the passing game for big plays.

    “You want to keep it going because as the running game goes, I believe this team and this offense goes,” Jackson said. “We need to continue to be productive in that area. I think it will open up things, especially for Sam and the receivers which allows for us to have some big plays.”

    So why, after the running game couldn’t quite get on track in the first part of the season, has it begun to take off?

    The reasons are varied though it starts with Jackson getting back to full strength and being able to again take on a full workload.

    After battling a quadriceps injury suffered on his season-opening 47-yard touchdown run, Jackson has been rounding back into form since the bye week.

    Of course, it hasn’t hurt that the Rams have been able to stay in games and stuck to the run more since they haven’t had to play catch up as much.

    “So far these last two weeks the games have been close, more opportunities to be honest with you,” Jackson said. “The more we can wear on a defense and the game is close or we’re in the lead, it allows for us to pound away...
    -11-14-2011, 06:05 AM
  • RamWraith
    Jackson Prepares to Carry Load
    by RamWraith
    Thursday, September 7, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    As Steven Jackson prepares to embark on his third NFL season, the expectations for his performance have only grown.

    Soon after the hiring of coach Scott Linehan, he made it clear that Jackson was going to be a key cog in his offense. Linehan wanted a more balanced attack for a team that had relied on the passing game for most of its offense in previous seasons.

    That was music to Jackson’s ears after he spent parts of last season asking for more touches. Even with the additional burden placed on him, Jackson isn’t worried about the implications.

    “There’s no pressure,” Jackson said. “We are making a big deal out of nothing. I was a 1,000-yard back; I’m going to continue to be a 1,000-yard back. I know the things we are going to continue to do up front are key. There’s no pressure, I don’t feel any pressure.”

    The Rams’ renewed commitment to the running game puts the onus squarely on Jackson’s shoulders to perform. While Jackson led the team in rushing in 2005 when he posted 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns on 254 carries, he also led the league in carries for negative yards.

    Jackson’s ability to get the ball up the field is one area that should improve in 2006. Linehan has installed a running game that has Jackson running north and south more than many of the plays that had him going east and west last season.

    That type of running game should appeal more to Jackson’s ability to lower his shoulders and hit the hole.

    “I’m not a guy that can make 11 guys miss,” Jackson said. “There’s only one guy that did that and that’s Barry Sanders. That’s not what I do. What I do is control the ball game and I move the chains.”

    Jackson will face a tough challenge right off the bat. While it’s the Broncos running game that gets all of the attention, their run defense is nothing to sneeze at. Denver finished second against the run last season, allowing just 85.2 yards a game.

    That defense is led by one of the fastest and most athletic linebacking crews in the NFL. Middle linebacker Al Wilson and outside ‘backers D.J. Williams and Ian Gold cover the field sideline to sideline, making it difficult for running backs to get past the second level.

    “We just have to run at them,” Jackson said. “We can’t run side to side and expect them to overrun things. I think we have to try to run action and get them to bite on some runs and capitalize on the chances we get.”

    Jackson had an up and down preseason. In the first preseason game against Indianapolis, Jackson carried five times for 41 yards with a long gain of 23. Against Houston and Kansas City, Jackson struggled some as there were few holes available. He carried a total of 14 times for 32 yards, just over 2 yards per attempt.

    If Jackson wants to join the...
    -09-07-2006, 06:24 PM