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  • Rams' new back can derail defenders-The Bernie

    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 against
    Washington. And he knows it.

    "I'm willing to put in the extra hours before practice and after practice to
    get better," Jackson said.

    That's what Martz wanted to hear. That's why he publicly chastised the rookie
    back before training camp. Martz wanted to test the depth of Jackson's hunger
    and desire to learn. He didn't want the kid to get comfy on a pile of
    signing-bonus money.

    "There's such a volume of information," Martz said. "He has no idea. We're
    using pretty much the same game plan every week. Wait until we throw that first
    (regular season) game plan at him. It'll be a culture shock for him. He really
    has to get into this thing. And he does.

    "For a rookie to be this far along, with the little preparation he's had, is
    pretty remarkable. He's a professional. He's much more mature than I ever gave
    him credit for. He's approached this with a great deal of focus, and like a
    very mature athlete."

    Since they moved here, the Rams have never had a power runner like Jackson.
    That extra dimension should give the offense more punch in the red zone, and
    more muscle in methodical, ball-control drives.

    "When he's carrying the ball, the more you give him the ball, the stronger he
    gets," Martz said. "The more you give it to him, the hungrier he gets. He just
    keeps rolling."

    Unlike recent Rams' No. 1 draft picks, The Steven R. Jackson won't stall at the
    station.

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  • RamWraith
    Jackson deserves to get chance in primary role
    by RamWraith
    By Bernie Miklasz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    12/01/2004

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz

    In sports, as in life, the passage of time can be sad. Our favorite
    sports stars can't stay forever young. Their bodies wear out. They
    slow down. They get phased out. And then they'll ease into retirement,
    and a younger athlete takes over.

    Sometimes the transition is handled gracefully. Cardinals outfielder
    Willie McGee, for example, extended his career by embracing a
    secondary role. Rams quarterback Trent Green was the consummate
    professional as a backup to Kurt Warner in 2000 and got rewarded with
    a trade to Kansas City.

    Other times, the switch can be a bitter experience for everyone
    involved. Ozzie Smith still resents the way he lost his shortstop
    position to Royce Clayton in 1996. And Warner's relationship with Rams
    coach Mike Martz deteriorated before Martz released the QB last
    spring.

    The Rams are approaching another sensitive passing of the baton.

    Marshall Faulk is one of the great running backs in NFL history, and
    he's a sure Hall of Fame inductee.

    But rookie Steven Jackson should be the Rams' primary runner.

    Faulk can play a role. I'm not saying the Rams should dump him, or
    treat Faulk as if he's a practice-squad scrub. He can still be a
    positive contributor. Given Martz's desire and ability to keep
    defenses off-balance by using myriad formations and personnel
    groupings, there are ways to utilize Faulk's multiple skills.

    Faulk, however, is 31. His knees have taken a pounding. Faulk
    understandably isn't as quick. He doesn't win that race to the corner
    as often as he once did. And linebackers drag him down in open space
    now.

    When he feels good, Faulk can still deliver; he has three 100-yard
    rushing games this season. But it's increasingly difficult for Faulk's
    wheels to bounce back after heavy-duty days. In the three games
    following his 100-yard days this season, Faulk has carried the ball a
    total of 33 times for 84 yards (2.5 yards a rush). When Faulk's legs
    are fresh, he's still an elite back. When he can't recharge those
    legs, he's ordinary at best.

    Over the past 29 games, totaling 450 carries, Faulk is averaging a
    pedestrian 3.8 yards a rush. His combined rushing-receiving yards
    averages have dropped over the past few years: 156 yards from
    scrimmage per game in 2000, to 153 yards in 2001, to 106 yards in
    2002, to 100 yards in 2003, to 88 yards in 2004. The pattern is clear.

    Jackson is more suited to carry the load. Jackson hauls his 230 pounds
    with a lighter man's touch. He is a punishing runner who can blast-cap
    through the defensive line to open his...
    -12-02-2004, 03:40 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, 01:12 AM
  • 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
    Jackson is playing key rushing role
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Oct. 19 2004

    When Rams running back Marshall Faulk bulled into the end zone from the 1-yard
    line in the second quarter Monday night, it marked the 100th rushing touchdown
    of his 11-year NFL career.

    That's 99 more than rookie Steven Jackson has recorded. But despite that
    disparity, Jackson more and more is becoming an important contributor to the
    team's attack, as he and Faulk increasingly share time in the backfield.

    "Coach (Mike) Martz and his staff are doing a great job in involving me in the
    offense," Jackson said after the Rams turned aside Tampa Bay 28-21 at the
    sold-out Edward Jones Dome. "They want to utilize my talent, so every
    opportunity I get out there, I try to make something happen."

    Faulk and Jackson split the ball-carrying duties virtually down the middle
    against the Buccaneers. Faulk had 15 attempts for 40 yards, and Jackson carried
    13 times for 48 yards. Each also had three receptions, Faulk picking up 29
    yards and Jackson 30.

    Jackson rambled 28 yards with a short pass on a third-and-14 play early in the
    fourth quarter that kept the Rams' game-winning drive alive. The play took them
    to the Tampa Bay 42-yard line, and three plays later quarterback Marc Bulger
    connected with wide receiver Torry Holt for a 36-yard touchdown and a 28-21
    lead.

    "We needed the drive to keep going," Jackson said. "I caught the ball, I saw
    the yardstick, and I knew I had quite a ways to go. I just had to make a hard
    run out of it."

    Jackson had 10 carries for 46 yards two weeks ago in the Rams' 24-14 victory in
    San Francisco. Last week in Seattle, he tacked on 64 more yards on five
    attempts as the Rams rallied for a 33-27 overtime win.

    "I feel like a guy who's contributing, helping this team win, and the more I
    get in there, the more plays I can make," said Jackson, the team's first-round
    draft pick in April. "If you have to share time, I wouldn't pick any other guy
    in the National Football League."

    Faulk has served as a low-key mentor for Jackson, an Oregon State product.
    "It's on-the-job training," Jackson said. "If I make a mistake, he coaches me
    up. But he doesn't over-teach me. He lets me go out there and do what I know
    how to do."

    Fullback Joey Goodspeed said he's seen Jackson's confidence building over time.
    "He knows what he's doing, and he's a lot more aggressive," Goodspeed said.
    "Steven brings that youth and excitement, and he gives Marshall a break; you're
    able to keep two running backs fresh. And they're both different runners....
    -10-19-2004, 02:11 PM
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