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Jackson still has much to learn

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  • Jackson still has much to learn

    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 head in check.

    "Yeah, it looks good for (the) camera," Jackson said, laughing again. "I understand the whole thing. But no, Coach Martz is a great coach and I'm just having fun with it. I'm actually here, I made it to the NFL, so it's just a dream to me and I'm just enjoying every moment of it."

    Jackson got his first taste of game-like conditions as an NFL player in Saturday's scrimmage against the Bears. His rushing numbers weren't eye-popping, with seven carries for 21 yards, although he showed some flashes of what's expected to come.

    "He's running a little bit high; he's a little tentative," Martz said. "You could see that there's a difference in that with Arlen (Harris) and Steven. Arlen takes that ball and he's out of there. He's gone.

    "Steven's still trying to learn our offense, and the blocking and all those things. There's so many things going around his head right now. In defense of him, too, we have really loaded him up with repetitions here this last week. And he's pretty much hit the wall physically."

    "Natural ability"

    But Jackson displayed some of his open-field speed in the scrimmage, turning a dump-off pass from Jeff Smoker into a 22-yard gain. He showed good cutback ability on a few runs. Jackson may not always know where he's going yet. Or why he's going there. But it's already clear that he has the running instincts to be a successful NFL back.

    "I wasn't the first running back (drafted) for no reason," Jackson said. "I don't mean to brag, but ... Once you get that ball in your hands, natural ability takes over, and you've just got to react to the defense. Once I learn my reads, and how the actual play works, I think a lot of Steven Jackson is going to come out later on."

    Once that happens, the Rams will have a nice addition to their cast of skill players. His teammates already can envision the possibilities.

    "I think Steven's going to be good for us," wide receiver Torry Holt said. "The kid can move very well. He can catch it good, too. I didn't realize he could catch the ball as well as he can.

    "I think Coach (Martz) will do a good job of putting him in position to help this football team. Spare Marshall some minutes. And Marshall can teach him. So I think they'll be able to feed off each other."

    And as Montgomery points out, Jackson doesn't have to be the man in the Rams' backfield. At least not now.

    "We're not asking him to be the chef and just do everything," Montgomery said. "We just want him to be able to bring a dish to the table. Just bring a side dish to the table - and we can go from there."

    Tale of the tape
    Steven Jackson Marshall Faulk
    RB Position RB
    22 Age 31
    231 Weight 211
    6-2 Height 5-10
    Rookie NFL Exp. 10 years

  • #2
    Re: Jackson still has much to learn

    The best part is he seems to know the game. He knows he has a lot to learn. It's unfortunate that he didn't make more offseason stuff, but it may serve as an eye opener. I'm excited about this pick for sure.


    Related Topics


    • Rambos
      Jackson Ready to Carry Load
      by Rambos
      Jackson Ready to Carry Load
      Thursday, September 8, 2005

      By Nick Wagoner
      Senior Writer

      There is little doubt about the lasting impression Steven Jackson left on the ***** during his rookie season.

      And that’s not even counting his 119-yard breakout performance in the second meeting with San Francisco.

      In case any of those ***** forget this week what Jackson is capable of, they can turn to cornerback turned safety Mike Rumph and ask him what he remembers about his first meeting with Jackson.

      "I remember thinking at the time, 'Why am I doing this?'” Rumph told the Associated Press. “But I stuck out my arm to try to trip him. When I was running off the field, I didn't even want to look at it; because I knew it was (broken) pretty bad."

      This would be Rumph’s attempt at arm tackling the running back known around Rams Park as “Train.” As Jackson burst up the middle with the ball, Rumph dived at him, sticking his arm directly in the path of Jackson’s churning legs. In other words, Rumph’s arm was on the tracks as the train came through.

      The result was a broken arm and a spot on the injured list for the rest of the season for Rumph. Jackson didn’t recall the play, but said he felt bad about what happened to Rumph.

      “I don’t remember,” Jackson said. “But I remember it being brought up a lot, especially this week. Like I told the San Francisco media, you never go out and try to hurt anyone. We all understand this is our livelihood and guys do want to play and the biggest thing for me is just to protect myself at all times. What happened to Mike was unfortunate but that’s the game of football.”

      Still, even Jackson was willing to admit that arm tackling him is probably not the best approach to bringing him down.

      Rumph should get plenty of opportunities to tackle Jackson again Sunday when the Rams and ***** open the regular season at Monster Park. This time Jackson is the starting running back and will probably get more than his share of the work.

      After a rookie season in which he shared time with Marshall Faulk, Jackson will start the season as the top guy this year. In his limited time last season, Jackson ran for 673 yards on 134 carries, an average of 5 yards per attempt.

      Those numbers would have been satisfying for many rookie backs, but not Jackson who is hoping that the normally pass-happy Rams offense will make a commitment to him.

      The confident Jackson is not scared to let the coaches know when he isn’t getting the ball. So what happens if it’s halftime and Jackson hasn’t gotten the touches he would like to get?

      “I wouldn’t wait ‘til halftime to say it,” Jackson said. “I think a lot of people know how I feel about running the ball. I also understand when you have the likes of Torry and Isaac and Kevin and Mac we do want to...
      -09-08-2005, 03:12 PM
    • RamDez
      Yellow is Jackson's signal to speed up
      by RamDez
      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      Saturday, Jul. 30 2005

      On reporting day, Rams running back Steven Jackson was issued his equipment
      with the rest of his teammates. To his surprise, he was handed a yellow jersey.

      "I didn't know if it was for a photo shoot or something," Jackson said.

      The yellow jersey was for use in practice, and both Jackson and Marshall Faulk
      got one Wednesday on the eve of training camp. The jersey signifies that
      defensive teammates must keep their hands off Jackson and Faulk in practice.

      Yellow means caution.

      Three days into camp, Jackson is running with anything but caution. To wit:

      * He basically ran over defensive end Anthony Hargrove on Thursday
      during a nine-on-seven run period.

      * Next, he shoved defensive back Michael Stone away when Stone made
      a little too much contact with that yellow jersey - and Jackson.

      * The topper came Saturday when Jackson and safety Adam Archuleta
      got into a scuffle after Archuleta thumped Jackson hard, too hard for Jackson's

      "They're two competitive warriors, and they love that part of the game,"
      running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery said. "It's me against you. . . . And
      Steven's going to show you he's not going to shy away from any contact."

      As he begins his tenure as the Rams' starting running back, Jackson isn't
      shying away from anything.

      "It's early, but I would say 'Big Train' is working hard," Montgomery said.
      "It's like he's picked up right where he's left off in minicamp. He came back
      with the right attitude. The intensity is great. He's focused. He wants to be a
      young leader. He's showing a lot of toughness right now."

      He's showing all that and more. Almost all elite runners in the NFL have a
      certain confidence about them, and Jackson has that air about him as well.

      "But he's been that way since he got here," coach Mike Martz said. "He has that
      aura about him of a guy like Marshall and Isaac (Bruce). He has that special
      way of carrying himself, and that quiet confidence that makes him special."

      Martz believes Jackson has the makings of something special. Otherwise, he
      wouldn't have named him the starter way back in February.

      "I just have visions of him doing great things. I really do," Martz said. "I
      think Steven's capable of being a dominant back, ultimately. Obviously, he's
      not there yet.

      "He has the quickness, the agility of that little guy. And he's that power
      runner as well. He can run through those arm tackles and be very physical. We
      can play power football with him down after down. He can take that punishment."...
      -07-30-2005, 11:47 PM
    • thoey
      Football Diehards: Steven Jackson
      by thoey
      Confident, Conditioned Jackson Ready For Featured Role...

      Written By Bob Harris | Football Diehards | Posted 11-Aug-05 @ 23:00 PM PT

      As Belleville News Democrat beat man Steve Korte recently framed it, "Steven Jackson felt like Lance Armstrong donning the yellow jersey in the Tour de France after being handed a bright gold No. 37 jersey at the start of the St. Louis Rams' training camp."
      "We had to report and get our jerseys and grab our equipment, and they handed me that one," Jackson said. "I didn't know if it was something for a photo shoot or what."

      Jackson and fellow running back Marshall Faulk are wearing yellow jerseys as a reminder to their teammates to keep any contact to a minimum. Not that Jackson has spent much time in camp avoiding contact.

      In fact, as he begins his tenure as the Rams' starting running back, Jackson isn't shying away from much of anything.

      "It's early, but I would say 'Big Train' is working hard," running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery said of the former first-round draft pick. "It's like he's picked up right where he's left off in mini-camp. He came back with the right attitude. The intensity is great. He's focused. He wants to be a young leader. He's showing a lot of toughness right now."

      And according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Jim Thomas, Jackson is showing all that and more. Almost all elite runners in the NFL have a certain confidence about them and Jackson has that air about him as well.

      "Steven came in here with that certain air about him that great players have," head coach Mike Martz said. "He's very confident without being cocky. His feeling is just give him the ball and put it on his shoulders just like Jerome Bettis. Marshall has helped him with that."

      "I'm sure he knows he still has stuff to learn, but from where he was at this point last year, it's obvious that he feels comfortable and he has that attitude that all good backs have," quarterback Marc Bulger said of Jackson. "They want the ball every down. Even in practice, he's starting to be a lot more vocal in the huddle. It's great to have that."

      Of course, the passing of the torch from Faulk to Jackson comes as the Rams try to revive a running game that tied for 25th among the NFL's 32 teams last season. They averaged only 4.3 yards per carry and had only 11 rushing touchdowns. Bulger believes the more physical Jackson will allow the rushing game take some pressure off the passing attack this season.

      As Martz put it: "[Jackson] has the quickness, the agility of that little guy. And he's that power runner as well. He can run through those arm tackles and be very physical. We can play power football with him down after down. He can take that punishment."

      As a first-year...
      -08-21-2005, 12:12 AM
    • RamWraith
      Jackson eager to haul ball for Rams
      by RamWraith
      By Bill Coats

      It was a long seven months ago that Rams coach Mike Martz designated Steven Jackson as his No. 1 running back. Since then, Jackson has had the second Sunday of September on his mind.

      "It's been a while, yeah," Jackson said. "This Sunday is going to be full of excitement for me. ... Pregame, I know I'm going to have the jitters. But after a while, I'm pretty sure I'm going to calm down."

      Jackson, the team's first-round draft choice in 2004, started three times last year. But until Martz made his announcement in February, Jackson was perched behind Marshall Faulk on the depth chart.

      Now, with the 32-year-old Faulk designated for a complementary role, the Rams' running game rests in the hands of Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 231-pound Oregon State product. And he can't wait to reward Martz's trust, starting with Sunday's regular-season opener in San Francisco.

      "I have plenty of goals for this year, not only individually, but for the team," said Jackson, 22. "I think we're fully capable of accomplishing those."

      Jackson was a bit cagey when discussing his own expectations.

      "If I could break 1,000 (rushing) yards, that'd be good. I've never done that," he said. "And 1,500 yards would be an excellent year. Me personally, I want more than that."

      Despite playing on a balky knee that was "cleaned up" during offseason surgery, Jackson piled up 673 yards in 134 carries last year, a gaudy 5.0-yard average. He also caught 19 passes for 189 yards.

      In the preseason this summer, Jackson had 32 carries for 215 yards, a 6.7 average. Healthy and primed, Jackson said his first assignment Sunday would be keeping his emotions in check.

      "That's going to be the biggest thing," he said. "Of course, I want to go out there and make big plays and I want to help my team win. But when you calm yourself down and just let the game come to you, that's when things happen for you."

      But will Martz, who loves to throw the ball, truly commit to the running game?

      "You never know what to expect from Mike," Jackson said. "It's up to me, when I do have a chance to run, to make something happen. And that's what I plan on doing."

      And if he thinks he isn't getting the ball enough, Jackson said he wouldn't hesitate to confront Martz - even early in the game.

      "I won't wait till halftime to say it," Jackson said, laughing. "I think a lot of people know how I feel about running the ball."

      That's just fine with the coach.

      "I'd be disappointed if he didn't do that," Martz said. "That's what he's used to and that's what he wants. And of course, that's what you want in...
      -09-09-2005, 04:16 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