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  • Balzer USA Today

    Howard Balzer bite on the Rams:

    SPECIAL MOTIVATION: Just four days after Rams coach Mike Martz sent a wake-up call to first-round pick Steven Jackson, the rookie running back signed a five-year contract at a St. Louis restaurant where Marshall Faulk often entertains. Faulk was present Saturday night, along with agent Rocky Arceneaux and Rams president of football operations Jay Zygmunt.

    Earlier in the week, when asked whether having Jackson created a comfort zone if Faulk continues to have issues with his knee, Martz said, "No, Steven Jackson doesn't count for anything at this point. He's a rookie that has no experience. He's not even here in the rookie camp, he doesn't know the offense, he's not in shape. We think he's going to eventually be a good NFL player, but right now he's our fourth running back."

    Many of the team's rookies were at Rams Park working out in the 10 days before camp was scheduled to open Tuesday, but Jackson wasn't.

    Cautioning about expectations, Martz said of Jackson, "The thing that people have to be very, very careful about, it's like a rookie quarterback. To say Steven Jackson is going to come in here and rotate with Marshall Faulk, there's just no way. It's not going to happen. You just can't have that kind of grasp. He's not ready for the speed of the game at that level. He's got so much (to learn). He's not here and he hasn't been here all spring, so what the normal rookie goes through, he hasn't had anything of.

    "He's going to have to move up through the ranks like everybody else on this football team. Nothing will be handed to this young man."

    On the field, that is.

    Meanwhile, with the Faulk retirement story still having legs, Martz expressed surprise about there being any possible problem. He said, "I'm a little perplexed. I'm not aware of any hullabaloo. I guess I haven't been in town and didn't know there was any kind of concern. I don't know what it would be. He's come into the season the last two or three years at about 70% ... and played. He's probably at this point if you had to put a number on it, talking to (trainer) Jim Anderson, he's probably around 85 or 90% and improving every day."

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  • RamWraith
    Camp tour: Rams' tough Jackson takes torch from aging Faulk
    by RamWraith
    Aug. 27, 2005
    By Pete Prisco
    CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer



    ST. LOUIS -- For all the yardage and points the St. Louis Rams have put up during the Mike Martz era of offensive football, they've always been viewed as one of the softer teams in the league, a pretty point-machine that didn't have the toughness to pound the ball when it needed to do so.
    When you finish a season ranked 29th in the league in rushing, which the Rams did in 2004, that's a hard reputation to shake.

    That is about to change.

    Martz still prefers the pass -- and for that he is to be saluted -- but there are 231 reasons why he's about to lean more about the power running game than at any time in his tenure with the team. That number 231 is the weight for starting running back Steven Jackson, who takes over in that role from veteran Marshall Faulk.

    Faulk is on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he will get there with an amazing cutting ability and speed that allowed him to turn what should have been a 12-yard run into a 70-yard touchdown.

    Jackson is all about power, which is something the Rams haven't had in their backfield since the Jerome Bettis days.

    Finesse is about to go bye-bye.

    "He brings the power," Rams receiver Torry Holt said. "He's a hard, tough back. He's like Eddie George with more speed and burst. He brings another air of toughness to our side of the ball."

    Looking at Jackson, it's clear he's going to be a heck of a tough runner to tackle for opposing defenses. At 6-2, he is thick and looks even bigger than his listed height and weight. Thinking of him coming at you full speed isn't a soothing thought.

    St. Louis Rams
    Out of Nowhere Man
    DB Corey Ivey
    When the Rams brought Corey Ivey into camp, they weren't too sure he'd make their team. As it turns out, he might be their nickel back. He has made a lot of plays in camp, and has been one of the pleasant surprises. At 5-8, he's spent six years in the league without much fanfare, playing for New England and Tampa Bay. He doesn't have a career interception, but that may change in 2005.

    As a rookie last season, he showed the toughness to run inside, but he also showed the burst to rip off the long runs. Martz stuck with Faulk as his starter -- some said it was because he has a soft spot in his heart when it comes to Faulk -- but eventually Jackson became the starter before knee problems limited him late in the season.

    Martz officially named him the starter in the spring -- Jackson learned about it while watching television from his home in Las Vegas -- but Jackson said the transition was made last season.

    "The transition took place long before you guys knew it," Jackson said. "Look at the game last year. I was playing...
    -08-27-2005, 09:14 PM
  • RamsFan16
    Camp tour: Rams' tough Jackson takes torch from aging Faulk
    by RamsFan16
    Camp tour: Rams' tough Jackson takes torch from aging Faulk


    Pete Prisco Aug. 27, 2005
    By Pete Prisco
    CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
    Tell Pete your opinion!




    Rams: Five things to know

    ST. LOUIS -- For all the yardage and points the St. Louis Rams have put up during the Mike Martz era of offensive football, they've always been viewed as one of the softer teams in the league, a pretty point-machine that didn't have the toughness to pound the ball when it needed to do so.

    When you finish a season ranked 29th in the league in rushing, which the Rams did in 2004, that's a hard reputation to shake.

    Steven Jackson rushed for 673 yards on just 134 attempts last season. (Getty Images)
    Steven Jackson rushed for 673 yards on just 134 attempts last season. (Getty Images)
    That is about to change.

    Martz still prefers the pass -- and for that he is to be saluted -- but there are 231 reasons why he's about to lean more about the power running game than at any time in his tenure with the team. That number 231 is the weight for starting running back Steven Jackson, who takes over in that role from veteran Marshall Faulk.

    Faulk is on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he will get there with an amazing cutting ability and speed that allowed him to turn what should have been a 12-yard run into a 70-yard touchdown.

    Jackson is all about power, which is something the Rams haven't had in their backfield since the Jerome Bettis days.

    Finesse is about to go bye-bye.

    "He brings the power," Rams receiver Torry Holt said. "He's a hard, tough back. He's like Eddie George with more speed and burst. He brings another air of toughness to our side of the ball."

    Looking at Jackson, it's clear he's going to be a heck of a tough runner to tackle for opposing defenses. At 6-2, he is thick and looks even bigger than his listed height and weight. Thinking of him coming at you full speed isn't a soothing thought.
    St. Louis Rams
    Out of Nowhere Man
    DB Corey Ivy
    When the Rams brought Corey Ivy into camp, they weren't too sure he'd make their team. As it turns out, he might be their nickel back. He has made a lot of plays in camp, and has been one of the pleasant surprises. At 5-8, he's spent six years in the league without much fanfare, playing for New England and Tampa Bay. He doesn't have a career interception, but that may change in 2005.
    Five things you should know

    As a rookie last season, he showed the toughness to run inside, but he also showed the burst to rip off the long runs. Martz stuck with Faulk as his starter -- some said it was because he has a soft spot in his heart when it comes to Faulk -- but eventually Jackson became the starter before knee problems...
    -09-05-2005, 04:24 PM
  • RamWraith
    From Pro Football Weekly
    by RamWraith
    Faulk stepping aside to aid Jackson
    By Jeff Reynolds
    June 27, 2005





    Mike Martz didn’t call Steven Jackson to alert him of a forthcoming change atop the RB depth chart.

    In retrospect, it wasn’t Martz’s call to make.

    Frankly, Martz was stunned when Marshall Faulk came to him at season’s end to tell Martz that Jackson would be the starter in 2005. Since 1999, Martz had allowed Faulk to carve his own niche with the team. Faulk decided when he would enter and leave a game and, because his level of preparedness exceeded most of his teammates’ and matched some coaches’, Faulk had some say in how the Rams would attack each opponent.

    “Any guy with the accomplishments of Marshall Faulk in this league wouldn’t deal with (a demotion) very well,” Martz said in his office at the team facility west of St. Louis. “But ultimately, this was Marshall’s decision. He talked initially that Steven should be the starter and that he could help him avoid so many of the problems that he had had his first few years in the league.”

    At first, Martz was unconvinced that flipping the depth chart — elevating Jackson to the No. 1 spot with Faulk moving down and helping in other areas, such as lining up as a slot receiver — was the right thing to do. Faulk explained further: “I can help (Jackson) avoid those mistakes. With his physical stature, the team would probably be better served if he started.”

    So Martz obliged the player he calls the most unselfish athlete he’s ever encountered — and Martz started as a high school coach in Fresno, Calif.

    “Marshall didn’t want Steven looking over his shoulder,” Martz said. “He wants to mentor him in the right way, help him as much as he can. Why? That’s what makes (Marshall) different than anyone else.”

    Martz didn’t tell Jackson he had become the starter. He chose to let Jackson find out with the rest of the world and now says Jackson was shocked by it. There’s also a feeling among some Rams coaches that Jackson believes Martz doesn’t like him. Players who have seen Martz light blazing fires within some of the most softly stimulated athletes — the self-motivation-challenged — say it’s Martz’s way of telling Jackson he still has a lot to earn and even more to learn. Being announced in pregame introductions with the first-team offense isn’t necessarily reflected on the stats sheet. To a degree, it’s a selflessness test to see how Jackson responds. Faulk, maybe a first-ballot Hall of Famer, is holding the door, without being asked, to the entrance to the NFL’s red carpet.

    “The one thing you try to observe with a first-round pick is their nature,” Martz said. “Steven Jackson, because of his success in college, you expect him to come in with an entourage. When he steps on the practice field, every camera, every microphone followed him. You don’t know them well enough yet,...
    -06-27-2005, 06:41 AM
  • RamWraith
    Steven Jackson ready to take on a heavier load
    by RamWraith
    BY STEVE KORTE
    News-Democrat
    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...
    -07-28-2006, 10:47 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams' new back can derail defenders-The Bernie
    by RamWraith
    By Bernie Miklasz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Aug. 29 2004

    Rams fans aren't bashful about jumping on quarterback Marc Bulger. In Friday's
    28-3 victory over the Redskins, Bulger got booed on the second offensive
    series. The Chris Chandler Fan Club welcomed new members. And it will be that
    way all season for Bulger.

    Quarterback controversies in St. Louis are old news. We've done that already.
    Yawn.

    What the town needs is something fresh. What we need is a debate over running
    backs. And we will have one soon enough.

    Marshall Faulk is the starter. He's a sure Hall of Famer. He's the greatest
    football player I've covered. Faulk is also 31. He's lost speed. His surgically
    repaired knees could be museum pieces. But Faulk will continue to be the
    feature back until he runs out of gas.

    Why? Because of Faulk's brains. His ability to read defenses and step out and
    pick up blitzers. Because of his sure hands in the passing game. Because of his
    winning background. Because of the respect he commands in the locker room. And
    because of coach Mike Martz's loyalty to him.

    But c'mon, admit it ...

    Aren't you excited by the freight train that's pulled into Union Station?

    It's the Steven R. Jackson. He's been the Rams' most impressive running back
    this summer. And if you're a defender, you'd better clear the tracks. This dude
    will flatten you.

    "I think safeties get tired of hitting him," Martz said.

    Jackson had 25 carries for 125 yards against the Redskins. He's rushed for 251
    yards, at 4.6 yards a charge, in three preseason games. And he's caught eight
    passes for 34 yards. The Rams apparently knew what they were doing when they
    picked Jackson in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft. Jackson already is
    leaving some blood on the tracks.

    "I'm a rookie," Jackson said, "so teams are trying to intimidate me at first.
    That's why I came out so aggressively. I'm trying to set the tempo. I don't
    want the defense to set the tempo. Plus, when I run hard it fires my teammates
    up."

    The question: How long will Faulk keep this train waiting in the station? It's
    hard to say. If anything, Jackson may extend Faulk's career by easing Faulk's
    workload and punishment. But if Faulk goes down, Jackson appears ready to
    barrel in. He busts through small holes. He gets yards after contact. He's a
    surprisingly smooth cutback runner, displaying quick feet. And he can haul his
    230 pounds around the corner.

    What's missing is knowledge of the Rams offense, especially in pass protection.
    Jackson makes too many mistakes; he whiffed on a blitz pick-up...
    -08-29-2004, 08:28 AM
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