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  • Faulk Leads Young RBs

    Thursday, August 19, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Marshall Faulk has never been a vocal guy. But, then, he has never had to be. One look at his numbers or any of his game film, and even the casual observer can see that everything he does on the field speaks for itself.

    What do the numbers say? Well, aside from the staggering size of most of them, they don’t simply speak, but scream one thing: Hall of Fame. It’s not debatable whether Faulk is one of the game’s all-time greats; he has racked up 11,213 rushing yards, 6,274 receiving yards and 131 total touchdowns.

    With the shrill pitch those numbers express, it might be easy for Faulk to get complacent and continue the trend. Complacency, though, has never been in Faulk’s dictionary and it isn’t being added this season. The former league MVP and Pro Bowler has accomplished most everything a player can accomplish in the NFL.

    The bad news for the rest of the league is that Faulk appears healthy for the first time in awhile. Coach Mike Martz said he sometimes has to hold back his enthusiasm about Faulk. “He looks like the Marshall of old out here,” Martz said. "He feels so good and when he’s like that we try not to put a damper on it, but we also just want him to be cautious.”

    A nagging knee injury and a hand injury have caused Faulk to miss time in recent years, but he continues to play, not because he wants to prove his doubters wrong, but solely because he loves the game.

    Faulk has never asked himself what more he can accomplish, but he has a few ideas of what he wants to improve on. Faulk is one of the Rams’ captains this season. Normally, Faulk leads by example and it isn’t hard for him because of his success. Now, with three talented young backs angling to be his heir apparent, Faulk is attempting to take a more vocal role, something he has never done. “When you get in the heat of the battle, there are certain things that only another player can help you with,” Faulk said. “If I do something that’s kind of different, I want them to know what my thoughts were and what I was thinking and try to get them on the same page. “I’m just trying to find a way to become a better leader.”

    While Faulk has spent most of his training camp on the sidelines, ensuring his health for the regular season, he has also provided an ear for his younger counterparts to turn to for advice. Faulk’s wisdom is readily available to Lamar Gordon, Arlen Harris and rookie Steven Jackson. With Faulk and running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery — a former Pro Bowl running back for the Philadelphia Eagles — providing the knowledge, the trio of backups has two accomplished runners leading the way.

    Jackson could have easily come to training camp with ideas of displacing Faulk. After all, Jackson was the first running back taken in April’s Draft and there was rampant speculation about the status of Faulk’s injury. Instead, Jackson has turned to Faulk consistently with questions about the nuances of the offense. "Marshall is a great guy,” Jackson said. “He’s one of those guys that will be around the game a long time, even when he’s done putting on that jersey. He knows just as much about this offense as the offensive coordinator. He sees things that I can’t believe he sees at times. We’ll watch film together and he’ll say, ‘Look at this,’ or ‘Did you see that?’ And I’m not even paying attention to what he’s looking at. “So, he will be a tremendous help in my career. I’ve heard some horror stories about veterans not helping rookies, but Marshall has done a great job. I’ve done my best to listen and to show him that I’m not just coming in thinking I’m on a high horse.”

    With Faulk’s tutelage, Jackson could contribute right away. Jackson brings an impressive resume with him to the NFL, compiling 3,625 rushing yards and 46 total touchdowns in three seasons at Oregon State. Standing 6-2 and 231 pounds, Jackson offers a powerful running style that could serve as a perfect complement to Faulk’s slashing, speedy methods. Jackson readily admits that he isn’t ready to dominate, but has plenty of confidence in his abilities.
    “I don’t want to brag, but I wasn’t the first running back taken in the draft for no reason,” Jackson said. “Once you get that ball in your hands, your natural ability just takes over and you just have to react to the defense. Once I learn my reads and how the plays are supposed to work, a lot of good things for me will happen.”

    Jackson’s growth might be somewhat stunted until he can pass some of the other backs on the Rams’ depth chart. Harris was a surprise a year ago, making the team as an undrafted free agent. Harris gained 255 yards rushing, scored four touchdowns and emerged as the team’s best kick returner.

    Harris added about 15 pounds in anticipation of a move to fullback during the offseason, but is still mainly a tailback. The added weight has made Harris more durable and gives Martz flexibility to have he and Faulk on the field at the same time. “Last year, Arlen, like the young wide receivers, was trying so hard to figure everything out and it’s different conditioning wise for them because you’re so much more fatigued when you don’t know what’s going on because you’re stressed,” Martz said. “However, when you have a better idea of what’s going on, you’re conditioning is better and everything is just better.”

    Gordon, meanwhile will spend some time recovering after ankle surgery. He enters his third season and, once he recovers from the surgery, will be healthy for the first time in his young career. Gordon has posted 525 yards and four total touchdowns, but has shown flashes of becoming another threat in the offense.

    The Rams are not lacking in depth and talent, but with their superstar running back set to embrace his new role, expect this group to make plenty of noise in 2004. “Maybe up until last year, I was never a guy who did a lot of talking or said a lot of things,” Faulk said. “I kind of got into that role and it’s a different role if you’ve never been a vocal guy who led that way. “What I figured out is you’re either a leader or you’re not. I don’t know that you can learn to become a leader. I think I’m a leader, it’s just that I hadn’t had that opportunity to use my leadership skills

  • #2
    Re: Faulk Leads Young RBs

    Jackson’s growth might be somewhat stunted until he can pass some of the other backs on the Rams’ depth chart.
    If Polley can be displaced on D, Jackson can move into 2nd just as rapidly. Sure would like to see the start of another Hall-of-Fame career unfold while we watch.

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    • RamDez
      Faulk Leads Young RBs
      by RamDez
      Faulk Leads Young RBs
      Thursday, August 19, 2004


      By Nick Wagoner
      Staff Writer


      Marshall Faulk has never been a vocal guy. But, then, he has never had to be. One look at his numbers or any of his game film, and even the casual observer can see that everything he does on the field speaks for itself.

      What do the numbers say? Well, aside from the staggering size of most of them, they don’t simply speak, but scream one thing: Hall of Fame. It’s not debatable whether Faulk is one of the game’s all-time greats; he has racked up 11,213 rushing yards, 6,274 receiving yards and 131 total touchdowns.

      With the shrill pitch those numbers express, it might be easy for Faulk to get complacent and continue the trend. Complacency, though, has never been in Faulk’s dictionary and it isn’t being added this season. The former league MVP and Pro Bowler has accomplished most everything a player can accomplish in the NFL.

      The bad news for the rest of the league is that Faulk appears healthy for the first time in awhile. Coach Mike Martz said he sometimes has to hold back his enthusiasm about Faulk. “He looks like the Marshall of old out here,” Martz said. "He feels so good and when he’s like that we try not to put a damper on it, but we also just want him to be cautious.”

      A nagging knee injury and a hand injury have caused Faulk to miss time in recent years, but he continues to play, not because he wants to prove his doubters wrong, but solely because he loves the game.

      Faulk has never asked himself what more he can accomplish, but he has a few ideas of what he wants to improve on. Faulk is one of the Rams’ captains this season. Normally, Faulk leads by example and it isn’t hard for him because of his success. Now, with three talented young backs angling to be his heir apparent, Faulk is attempting to take a more vocal role, something he has never done. “When you get in the heat of the battle, there are certain things that only another player can help you with,” Faulk said. “If I do something that’s kind of different, I want them to know what my thoughts were and what I was thinking and try to get them on the same page. “I’m just trying to find a way to become a better leader.”

      While Faulk has spent most of his training camp on the sidelines, ensuring his health for the regular season, he has also provided an ear for his younger counterparts to turn to for advice. Faulk’s wisdom is readily available to Lamar Gordon, Arlen Harris and rookie Steven Jackson. With Faulk and running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery — a former Pro Bowl running back for the Philadelphia Eagles — providing the knowledge, the trio of backups has two accomplished runners leading the way.

      Jackson could have easily come to training camp with ideas of displacing Faulk. After all, Jackson was the first running back taken in April’s Draft and there was rampant speculation...
      -08-19-2004, 02:46 PM
    • RamWraith
      Proving Ground: Faulk ready to show he can still excel
      by RamWraith
      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      Friday, Aug. 27 2004

      Only three players in NFL history have scored more touchdowns than Marshall
      Faulk. Only five players have more yards from scrimmage. Just 13 have more
      rushing yards. So there is no doubting Faulk's greatness, or his eventual spot
      in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

      But over the past two seasons, Faulk's rushing totals have decreased while his
      number of knee surgeries mounted. From a career-high 1,382 rushing yards for
      the Rams' 2001 Super Bowl team, Faulk dipped to 953 yards in '02. In 2003, a
      season in which Faulk missed a career-high five games due to injury, the total
      dropped to 818 yards.

      But for those questioning Faulk's future in the game at age 31, Rams defensive
      captain Tyoka Jackson has this message:

      "Keep doing it," Jackson says. "Keep saying all that stuff. 'Marshall's old.
      He's done.' Keep saying it. And just watch and see what happens."

      Just don't say it to Faulk.

      When an out-of-town reporter recently asked Faulk if he could get back to his
      former level of play, Faulk shot back: "I never thought I left."

      Faulk followed up by asking the reporter: "Hey, how long have you been doing
      this? Does your finger hurt? Does your hand hurt from writing?"

      Of course, taking notes doesn't normally involve gang-tackling, collisions or
      pass- blocking, something Faulk has been a part of for 10 NFL seasons - going
      on 11.

      But Faulk is a fiercely proud man, and he has earned that right based on his
      career accomplishments. Doubts?

      "It's hard to doubt greatness," said running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery,
      once an elite back himself. "Any time someone achieves what he has achieved,
      it's hard to put a question mark on it, hard to say, 'Hey, I doubt that this
      guy can do it.'

      "Marshall is going to be the guy to tell us when he can't do it. I go in every
      day, and every practice, every meeting, knowing that he's the guy. And that he
      can do it."

      And now, with the regular season quickly approaching, it's just about time to
      do it again.

      "I'm grinding away at it, getting back into the flow of things," Faulk said
      after his preseason debut Monday in Kansas City. "There's a conditioning factor
      that I'm working on. . . .You never know in this offense until your number's
      called five, six, seven times in a row if you are in the condition you want to
      be. But that's something that's going to come as I get my carries throughout
      the preseason, and throughout the year."

      The Rams have brought Faulk along carefully...
      -08-29-2004, 11:57 AM
    • RamDez
      Second Act
      by RamDez
      Second Act


      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch

      08/28/2005


      While the others sit in what are best described as school desks, Marshall Faulk has a comfortable, padded chair in the running backs' meeting room. A pillow is placed strategically where the chair back meets the seat.

      It's a concession to Faulk's longevity, productivity and stature as perhaps the best all-purpose back in NFL history.

      Everything else Faulk has ceded to the youngster - quietly, gracefully and without envy. The transition from Faulk to Steven Jackson in the Rams' backfield could be nasty. But so far, it's been seamless.




      "The thing that I can truly say about 28 (Faulk), there's not a person that's ever come in this room that he hasn't gotten along with," running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery said, nodding in the direction of Faulk's vacant chair. "He never looked upon himself as better or greater than anybody that took a seat in this room. He constantly encouraged them to be good. And I constantly encouraged those guys to be like him. ... to reach the heights that he has reached in his NFL career."


      Few have reached such heights. As he enters his 12th pro season, Faulk ranks fourth in NFL history in touchdowns (135), fourth in yards from scrimmage (18,545), 12th in rushing yards (11,987) and 19th in receptions (723).

      With just 134 rushing yards this season, Faulk will move ahead of Franco Harris into 10th place on the NFL's career rushing list. He has been chosen for seven Pro Bowls, played in two Super Bowls and been league MVP.

      But at age 32, his knees aren't getting healthier. His rushing totals and yards per catch have declined in each of the past three seasons. So as Faulk enters the twilight of his career, he seems determined to leave the game with his head held high, instead of being dragged out kicking and screaming.

      For starters, he renegotiated his contract in February. It wasn't one of those cosmetic renegotiations, where money is shuffled to lessen that year's cap hit, but the overall dollars remain the same. It was a pay cut: from $6 million to $4 million in 2005, and from $6 million to $2 million in 2006. As a result, the Rams will save $3.5 million in cap room in both 2005 and 2006.

      "You've just got to be honest with yourself, and decide where you're at and where you want to be," Faulk said. "I probably can't do all the things that I used to be able to do, just because it's Father Time. It's inevitable. It happens.

      "I wanted to stay here. Both sides came up with an agreement, something both of us could live with. And that was it. . . . With what we're trying to get accomplished, I'd not only be cheating myself, but I'd be cheating my teammates if I continued to make the money that I was making and wasn't producing
      ...
      -08-28-2005, 03:49 AM
    • RamWraith
      Faulk steps back to keep going
      by RamWraith
      By Larry Weisman, USA TODAY

      ST. LOUIS — Every picture tells a story, and sometimes it's a sad one. There is Emmitt Smith, wearing the red jersey of the Arizona Cardinals. Franco Harris squeezing out a few last carries with the Seattle Seahawks. O.J. Simpson, forlorn in a San Francisco ***** uniform. They forged their reputations in one place and diminished them in another.
      There will be no such portrait of Marshall Faulk. He understands the limits of the body, the stresses of the game and the value of an exit strategy. That is why he no longer is starting for the St. Louis Rams yet is prolonging his career in order to end it with the club.

      At 32, and beginning his 12th NFL season, Faulk will back up Steven Jackson, the Rams' No. 1 pick a year ago. Maybe St. Louis, which plays its third preseason game tonight against the Detroit Lions, would have made this change anyway, but the impetus came from Faulk, who has failed to start in only five of 160 career games with the Rams and the Indianapolis Colts.

      "I think that in a sense you just have to be honest with yourself and what you can and can't do and understand what you want to get out of this game and what you want to do," Faulk says. "And I want to win. My personal accomplishments aren't as important to me; winning is. I think the combination of myself and Steven gives us, as a team, a better opportunity to win. With the work that he's going to put in, he deserves to be the starter."

      Faulk led the Rams in rushing for a sixth consecutive season in 2004, with a modest 774 yards. It was the third consecutive year he finished below 1,000 and his fewest rushing yards since 1995 with the Colts, when he gained 587. Jackson, playing through a knee injury, showed toughness and an ability to break tackles in rushing for 673 yards and averaging 5.0 yards a carry. Faulk suddenly understood what so many players do not, will not or cannot. So he approached coach Mike Martz to talk about himself and Jackson.

      "Marshall said to me privately, 'It's time, I think.' I said, 'Time for what?' And he said, 'He needs to be the featured guy. And whatever role you want me to do, I'd be happy to do it. It's going to be tough, but I think I can really help him and still have some value for this team.' I couldn't believe it," Martz says. "But that's Marshall. So I got to thinking about it more and more, and I said, 'We're going to do this.' "

      The 5-10, 211-pound Faulk ranks 12th on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 11,987 yards, leads all running backs in career receiving yardage (6,894), is second among backs in receptions (773) and is tied for fourth in touchdowns with 135. The Rams are 27-0 since 1999 when he rushes for 100 yards in a game.

      "A long time ago I made a pact with myself that if you can't do it, you can't do it anymore and you have to leave the game. And...
      -08-29-2005, 05:51 AM
    • RamDez
      Rams' Faulk Knows Clock Ticking on Career
      by RamDez
      Rams' Faulk Knows Clock Ticking on Career
      By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer


      MACOMB, Ill. — Marshall Faulk has had his share of physical problems over the years>

      He comes into the St. Louis Rams' camp healthy this year. Then again, it's early.

      Entering his 12th NFL season, the 31-year-old running back doesn't know how long his body, and ultimately, his career will last.

      "This is probably the first year I've thought about it like 'Man, if the body isn't acting right, what do I do? Do I fight through it or do I not play?" Faulk said Thursday. "That's something I'm going to have to evaluate after the season."

      After two days of the Rams' workouts, Faulk said he's feeling fine and after watching himself on tape said he looked "pretty good to myself."

      The Rams are taking steps to conserve Faulk, limiting his practice and shutting him down for the morning practice during two-a-day workouts. He likely won't play much in the preseason, either.

      Last year, a bad knee and a broken hand kept Faulk out of five games and limited him to 818 yards rushing and 45 receptions for 290 yards. He had knee surgery in the off season.

      "If he says his knee is a little bit sore and we need to take some time, then that's what we do," coach Mike Martz said. "He knows exactly what he needs to do to get ready."

      Faulk was the NFL MVP in 2000 and from 1998-2001 became the first player in NFL history to gain 2,000 yards rushing and receiving for four consecutive seasons. His contract with the Rams is through 2008.

      St. Louis also is preparing for the end of his prolific career, drafting Oregon State running back Steven Jackson in the first round. Jackson ran for 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns in three seasons for the Beavers.

      "Having guys behind me that are youthful and that I can pass some information along to and hopefully one day, whether it's here or on another team, they can step in and be the guy, they can look back on some of the things I told them about the game," Faulk said.

      But Faulk said he doesn't plan to go willingly.

      "I love football. It's in me. I was given a gift to play this game, not just the physical gift but a mental gift to understand it," he said. "It's not all that I have but it's something I have that I love doing and I have a passion for."
      -07-29-2004, 03:01 PM
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