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Proving Ground: Faulk ready to show he can still excel

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  • Proving Ground: Faulk ready to show he can still excel

    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 in training camp and the preseason.
    But in consultation with Faulk, coach Mike Martz has increased his workload
    considerably over the past two weeks.

    "He's done more work in the preseason now and practice then he's done since
    I've been here," Martz said. "He's further along than he's ever been at this
    point in the season."

    However, not even Faulk is ready to say conclusively how his right knee will
    hold up through the wear-and-tear of another NFL season. Not after undergoing
    surgery twice in the past 11 months - once early in the '03 season and once
    early in the offseason.

    "I'm OK," Faulk says, mildly optimistic about what has transpired so far.
    "After some regular-season games, some touches with the ball, then I'll
    evaluate it. It's kind of early to evaluate things right now."

    To date, the early returns have been encouraging to those around him.

    "He's looking better and better," safety Aeneas Williams said. "Obviously,
    Coach (Martz) has made sure to ease him into it."

    "Marshall looks good to me," Martz told reporters after the Chiefs game. "From
    standing on the sideline, it's hard to tell. You guys can probably tell better
    than I can. But he looks like he's got his burst and his speed."

    It remains to be seen what kind of a workload Faulk will get once the regular
    season starts. During his first three seasons with the Rams, he averaged 339
    "touches" - on rushing attempts and receptions. But that average has dropped to
    273 over the past two seasons, including just 254 last year, which matched his
    career low.

    Even if Faulk stays healthy, promising rookie Steven Jackson, as well as Lamar
    Gordon, could be worked into the backfield mix, making the feature back more of
    a time-share position. It has been speculated that Faulk could line up more at
    wide receiver this season, in an attempt to isolate him on linebackers and take
    advantage of his still-considerable pass-catching skills.

    "I would enjoy anything that we can get from Marshall," wide receiver Torry
    Holt said. "He can do so much for this football team.

    "So if we have to line him up out there in the slot, that'll be great. If we
    have to line him up at tailback and give him tosses off-tackle, and he can pick
    up 5 or 6 yards, that would be great. Whatever he can give to us this year, I'm
    fine with it."

    So is everyone else at Rams Park, including a head coach who still thinks Faulk
    can weave his magic, and display his old form.

    "If we didn't really feel that way, we wouldn't be so committed to it," Martz
    said. "Does that make sense? And we are committed to him. I firmly believe with
    all my heart that he is that (same) back

Related Topics

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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
  • 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
  • RamWraith
    Faulk Leads Young RBs
    by RamWraith
    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...
    -08-19-2004, 11:33 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 plays a realist in his new role
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Saturday, Nov. 19 2005

    Marshall Faulk broke into hearty laughter when told that in Joe Vitt's
    estimation, he had the makings of a great coach.

    "I don't know, man," Faulk said, shaking his head. "I don't rule anything out.
    You never know when you're done what you're going to do to combat those
    competitive juices."

    The intensity of those feelings has gripped the New Orleans native for almost
    three decades. "I've played football since I was 6," Faulk said Friday in a
    rare one-on-one interview. "I've put a lot of hours in, a lot of hard work and
    learned a lot of lessons playing this game."

    Now, at age 32 and with 11 1/2 NFL seasons in his rear-view mirror, Faulk peers
    down the road. He ruminates often over how much longer he'll play. "All the
    time," he said. "All the time."

    Faulk came to training camp in top shape mainly because of a surgery-free
    offseason. "I wasn't rehabbing anything; I was just working out," said the
    5-foot-10, 211-pound San Diego State product. "It allowed me to come back
    fresher and feeling better than I've felt in maybe the previous three years."

    He also arrived with a different assignment. Shortly after last season, Faulk
    and coach Mike Martz agreed on a new approach: Let Steven Jackson, the team's
    first-round draft pick in 2004, take over as the No. 1 running back. Faulk
    would have a "significant supporting role" and perhaps extend his career, Martz
    explained.

    Faulk, who also took a significant pay cut to free up salary-cap space for the
    team, was coming off his least productive season since 1996, his third year
    with Indianapolis. He rushed 195 times for 774 yards and caught 50 passes for
    310 yards in 2004. He scored four touchdowns.

    "You understand the circumstances, and you understand what you can and can't
    do. And that's the reality of it," Faulk said. "You have to come to grips with
    that part of your life, not just in football but in life, and accept that."

    The turning point

    A cathartic episode in 1998 helped cement Faulk's ardent team-first attitude.
    He had piled up 267 yards for Baltimore, but the Colts lost 38-31 after Faulk
    blew a route and Peyton Manning's last-minute pass was intercepted.

    Coach Jim Mora lit into Faulk during the team's tape review the next day.
    Afterward, Faulk slipped into an assistant coach's office and dissolved into
    tears.

    "I was crushed ... I mean, crushed," he told Sports Illustrated. "I knew ... I
    had let my teammates down, and I knew I never...
    -11-20-2005, 08:20 AM
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