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  • Jackson puts emphasis on leading by example

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    MACOMB, Ill. - After a week of resort-like weather, heat and humidity swooped down Tuesday on the football fields at Western Illinois University. Some players might have enjoyed a day off under the steamy conditions. But not Rams defensive end Tyoka Jackson, who was forced to the sideline with a banged-up left leg.

    "When I'm not practicing, there's extra work for my teammates, and I don't like to do that," Jackson said. "Football is a game of ongoing skill development, and every day that you miss a practice you're missing a day to get better, to get your skills developed more. And so I'm not happy about it."

    Jackson, 32, is one of the team's five full-time captains for the second year in succession, and he takes those duties seriously.

    "I always respected all the captains I've ever been around, from high school through college and in the NFL," he said. "Now that it's been bestowed on me, I take it personal. It's a great honor."

    Among his responsibilities, Jackson said, is to demonstrate a high level of dedication.

    "All leaders who are worth anything are leaders by example, and you can't lead by example when you're watching everyone else work," he said. "There are going to be nicks and scrapes; I'm just thankful it's not a big-time, serious injury."

    Coach Mike Martz said Jackson is "what we'd like everybody to use as a role model in that respect, in terms of competing, being a pro, a team player, all those things."

    Jackson provides relief for starter Leonard Little on the left side and often moves inside on third-down situations. Jackson played in all 16 regular-season games last year, with four starts. He totaled 45 tackles, with 5 1/2 sacks. Both were career highs for Jackson, who is starting his 10th season in the NFL.

    Jackson, a Penn State product who was not drafted in 1994 but was signed by Miami, has played with the Rams for three seasons. He said his time in the league has flown by.

    "In a lot of ways I still feel like I'm the same guy who was fighting for my life coming in as an undrafted free agent," he said. "I feel that was the biggest injustice of my career. That's never going to leave me.

    "I'm always going to be the guy in my heart who's fighting to get respect and fighting for a job every single year. That keeps me on edge, keeps me getting better."

    On Wednesday morning, Jackson was back on the practice field.

    A lot to learn

    Few NFL rookies face the kind of challenge that confronts quarterback Jeff Smoker, the Rams' sixth-round draft pick out of Michigan State. He is charged with mastering the bulging playbook that contains the details of Martz's intricate offense.

    And that won't occur quickly, Smoker acknowledged.

    "I think it takes a long time, maybe even a year or so, to really know the ins and outs of this offense," he said. "So I'm trying to take it bit by bit and get comfortable with a piece at a time. But I'm definitely far from getting a grasp on all of it."

    Smoker, expected to fill the No. 3 spot behind Marc Bulger and Chris Chandler, also is adjusting to getting only occasional reps during training camp.

    "It's frustrating sometimes," he said. "I'm used to always being the starter, ever since I was little. Now I'm trying to learn how to stand back there and learn just from watching. It's a little different, but you've just got to take advantage of the time you get."

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  • RamWraith
    Jackson still has much to learn
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    MACOMB, Ill. - Before Steven Jackson arrived in Macomb two weeks ago, the running back's NFL experience consisted of one weekend at the Rams' post-draft rookie minicamp.

    So he's way behind. Behind the other rookies; behind the younger running backs on the depth chart; and light years behind Marshall Faulk. Two weeks into his first NFL training camp, Jackson still is playing catch-up.

    "With this offense, my head's probably going to be spinning for a while until I really get comfortable in it," Jackson said. "Once I get comfortable with this offense, that's when my true talent can take over. But until then, I'm going to be thinking and trying not to mess up."

    By NFL rule, Jackson couldn't participate in offseason work with the team, other than the rookie minicamp, until his college's senior class graduated. In the case of Oregon State, Jackson's school, that didn't happen until mid-June.

    By then, the Rams were shutting down their offseason program for the summer, giving players and coaches some down time before heading to Macomb.

    Much to the chagrin of Martz, Jackson also decided to skip a rookie session held at Rams Park just before the start of training camp.

    In any event, Jackson arrived cold - stone cold in terms of knowing the playbook.

    "He's still green at it," running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery said. "He's got a lot to learn. The adjustments are coming. We're going to ride him really, really hard, because we want him to be at his best."

    A lot to learn

    For now, the Rams want Jackson humble and hungry. So far in camp, Martz hasn't missed a chance to prod Jackson whenever he felt it was necessary.

    During one practice session, when Jackson apparently lined up in the wrong spot, Martz bellowed: "What are you doing out here, sleepwalking?"

    On Friday, during the joint practice sessions with the Bears, Martz hardly proclaimed Jackson game-ready.

    "We still have to give him run reads, and let him know what's going on with some things," Martz said. "He's a long ways away. He is a long, long, long, long - let me say that one more time - l-o-n-g ways away from lining up and being effective."

    Jackson has taken the rookie hazing in stride.

    "I prepared for it mentally and physically this offseason and summer," Jackson said. "I had my dad yell at me a couple times."

    Jackson laughed at his joke, then added, "Everything that he's thrown out to me, I'm dealing with it pretty well. I know it's for the best. When he stops yelling at me, that's when you start worrying."

    Some of Martz's bombast is done as a way of keeping the first-round draft pick's...
    -08-10-2004, 05:52 AM
  • RamWraith
    Jackson rides the bus to his first NFL camp
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    MACOMB, Ill. - Steven Jackson had a practical reason for taking the "rookie bus" to training camp, something Rams first-round draft picks rarely do.

    "I didn't want to get lost," said Jackson, a running back from Oregon State. "I caused enough drama over the last week. What if the first-rounder gets lost? That'd be a little more news for you guys. So, I figured I'd just hop on the bus and it'd be a little easier for me."

    Jackson worked his way into coach Mike Martz's doghouse last week when he was a no-show for a rookie session at Rams Park. Martz scolded Jackson publicly, emphasizing that he would be listed No. 4 on the depth chart when camp started, behind Marshall Faulk, Lamar Gordon and Arlen Harris.

    "Whether you're drafted in the first round or the seventh round, whatever you get, you earn; that's what this league is all about," Martz said Tuesday night after players had reported to Western Illinois University. "There was a misconception that he was going to come in and play right away . .. because he's Steven Jackson. Well, Lamar and Arlen and these other guys have got something to say about that.

    "This is a very competitive league, and he needs to come in and compete. And my message to Steven was exactly that."

    Jackson said he got the point, loud and clear.

    "He's saying I'm not a special guy, that I'm going to be held to the same standards as everyone else," he said. "I don't have any hard feelings toward Coach Martz. Hopefully we can have a great relationship."

    After signing a five-year contract Sunday, Jackson deposited his $4 million signing bonus in the bank and packed his bags.

    "I just treated it like I was going to college, going back to a dormitory," he said. "So, I've got my pillows, my CD player, PlayStation 2, of course. Just the essentials."

    The bus riders arrived at 2:30 p.m.; the first practice was scheduled for 8:10 this morning.

    Fourth-round pick Brandon Chillar, a linebacker from UCLA, said he was "anxious and excited" heading into his first NFL camp. "That's been my goal, to make it to the NFL," he said. "Now that I'm here, I want to see what I can do."

    Quarterback Jeff Smoker, a sixth-round pick from Michigan State, said he expected the 3 1/2-week stay in Macomb to be a challenge, physically and mentally.

    "Camp's obviously going to be tough," he said. "There are going to be a lot of things going on, a lot of things thrown at us, being rookies. I'm getting ready to learn a lot."

    Jackson said he anticipated plenty of bumps and bruises.

    "A lot of pain," he said, laughing.

    -07-28-2004, 05:36 AM
  • Nick
    Jackson Makes His Presence Felt
    by Nick
    Jackson Makes His Presence Felt
    Sunday, August 29, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Over, around, through. Pick a preposition and it probably applies to Steven Jackson’s running style.

    The rookie running back from Oregon State, who played well in the Rams’ first two preseason games, made his official announcement to the rest of the NFL that he is going to be a force sooner than later.

    St. Louis coach Mike Martz said he is impressed with the strides Jackson has made.

    “The more you give him the ball, the stronger he gets,” Martz said. “He’s like a typical USC tailback. The more you give him, the hungrier they get and they just keep rolling. I think safeties get tired of hitting him after awhile.”

    Jackson left Washington’s defense with a different shade of skin: black and blue Friday night at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis’ 28-3 win. Jackson finished his evening with a little more than five minutes left. He was efficient, bruising and most of all effective in racking up 125 yards on 25 carries, adding a touchdown for good measure.

    Ask Jackson to describe his running game and it is likely you will receive a variety of answers. He makes no qualms about his propensity for taking on defenders in the open field with little more than a dropped shoulder.

    Quarterback Chris Chandler said he hasn’t been around many backs that can drive forward and finish runs the way Jackson does.

    “That piles moves forward when he hits it,” Chandler said. “He’s got a ways to go, but he has a great start.”
    Jackson said he likes the different aspects to his game, but he takes the most pride in leaving cleat marks on a defender’s chest.

    “That’s the main ingredient in my game,” Jackson said. “That’s why the Rams brought me here, to add a little bit more of a downhill attack in their offense.”

    Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 231 pounds, the chiseled Jackson is blessed with more than power.

    Numerous times, Jackson has shown impressive finesse moves, such as his jump cut, where he takes a little hop to one side of the defender, adjusts his pad level and moves forward. Jackson also possesses enough speed to outrun most defenders. His ability to mix running styles is just one reason he was the first running back taken in the 2004 NFL Draft.
    “I know a big part of my game is being so big and powerful, but at the same time I do have quick feet and I can get hit the holes,” Jackson said. “That’s another thing that can throw a defender off my game.”

    Jackson has also displayed a soft pair of hands that make him a developing duel-threat back. In 36 games at Oregon State, Jackson rushed for 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns. He also caught 66 passes for 680 yards and six touchdowns.

    Jackson entered the draft a year early and the Rams traded up with Cincinnati...
    -08-29-2004, 09:47 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Learning To Lead: The Evolution Of Steven Jackson
    by r8rh8rmike
    Learning to Lead: The Evolution of Steven Jackson
    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    “Our response to an offense determines our future.” – Author John Bevere, “The Bait of Satan.”

    Right there in black and white for his eyes to see, Steven Jackson constantly goes back to this book. It’s one of his favorites though if you ask him to name them it might take a while because he’s constantly diving into a new one.

    On the surface, passages like the one above might seem simple. Then again, on the surface, a person might be viewed the same way.

    What you don’t know is how complicated something or someone can be when you dig a littler deeper. In the case of Steven Jackson, a little closer look can reveal something you never would have guessed or even attempted to try.


    At the conclusion of nearly every Rams practice, a few players always lag behind the group on the long walk back to the locker room. Some stay behind and catch passes, others work on footwork. They all do it by choice but some undoubtedly do it because that’s what Jackson does.

    Jackson is the one who will quickly peel off his pads and run extra gassers, not because he’s out of shape but because it sets the right example of what it takes to be successful.

    The Rams have the fourth-youngest team in the NFL with an average age of right around 26. Coincidentally, Jackson is the same age. But because he entered the league when he was only 20, Jackson’s ascent to a leadership role has happened quicker than most.

    As he’s grown and developed as a player, he’s seen players come and go and just now, in 2009, has he taken it upon himself to become the leader of this young group.

    “I have seen nothing but great things,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “His greatness in that regard, in the leadership regard is shining right now when it’s not the best of times and the results haven’t been what we want. I’m not going to share with you one other thing but there was something he did that meant the world to me and I appreciated him and how he’s gone about things right now.”

    Growing up in Las Vegas, Jackson’s lessons in leadership began at an early age. His father, Steve, practically majored in the subject as a Marine veteran in the Vietnam War.

    That meant plenty of “yes, sir” and “no, sir” in the Jackson household but it also began a cultivation process in the planting of those seeds of leadership.

    Jackson learned a lot of the details from his father, things like always being on time, keeping your word and being dressed presentably for every occasion. Those little things that can determine one’s character.

    “You have to go through a maturation of becoming a leader,” Jackson said. “Everyone doesn’t have leadership qualities but those...
    -10-08-2009, 09:20 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Jackson Energized By Adventurous Offseason
    by r8rh8rmike
    Jackson Energized by Adventurous Offseason
    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Lying on an operating table following back surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back in early April, Steven Jackson couldn’t help but let his mind drift to the idea of football mortality.

    In his six years in the NFL, Jackson had never suffered an injury serious enough that he had to undergo offseason surgery let alone feel any pain of any kind that extended beyond a normal three to four week rest period in January.

    But for the first time, Jackson was going to have an offseason quite different from any of his previous ones.

    It was then and there that Jackson decided to cut it loose and take a different approach to how he’d spend his summer vacation.

    “I had uncertainty in my health for the majority of the offseason and was not really enjoying myself,” Jackson said. “It allowed me to really think about the NFL and sometimes you think you can play this game forever. It was a reality check, one that I was probably taking for granted because I have always been healthy for the most part. This time I had to rehab, go through the operation. I was constantly working and not enjoying myself in my down time. Once the back was feeling good and I was feeling physically fit, I wanted to take advantage of my opportunities to enjoy myself.”


    Each offseason, Jackson makes it a point to try to see at least one new country, if not more. Long before the surgery, Jackson had already planned to venture to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.

    In addition to South Africa, he’d also planned to make stops in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. Along the way, Jackson initially figured he’d see the historical sites, tour the land and sample the local food.

    At some point during the back issues, Jackson morphed into the Vinnie Chase character from Entourage who used a back injury of his own to develop a desire for thrill seeking adventures.

    So Jackson called his travel agent and added shark diving, three safaris and sand dune hikes to his itinerary.

    “I just kind of wanted to go into overcoming fears and living outside the lines and boundaries,” Jackson said. “You hear people all the time say that your mind traps you in fear. I kind of tried to step outside of myself and mimic somewhat of a daredevil. This year, I told my travel agent ‘let’s walk on the wild side a little bit.’”

    Of all of the heart pounding exploits on his trip, it was the first one that really set the tone.

    On his first day in Cape Town, Jackson hopped on a boat and was ferried to an area known as Seal Island, where great white sharks are known to congregate in large groups.

    After a bit of trepidation, Jackson climbed into a cage, was hooked up to an...
    -09-07-2010, 03:53 PM