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  • Rams balance need /SportsLine.com

    Rams balance need, logic in deploying top weapon Faulk
    Sept. 1, 2004
    By Clark Judge
    SportsLine.com Senior Writer
    Tell Clark your opinion!



    Rams: Five things to know
    It's not how much time former All-Pro running back Marshall Faulk might miss this season that will determine where St. Louis finishes. It's how much he plays, with the Rams careful how they use a 31-year-old back sidelined with injuries parts of the past four seasons.


    The Rams drafted Steven Jackson in Round 1 for a very good reason. (AP)
    Here's the problem: Faulk is the Rams' best player, and the more he's on the field, the more problems the Rams pose for opponents. But the more he plays, the greater the risk of injury, and he missed a month-and-a-half last year with a broken hand and sore knee.

    It's a sticky situation. St. Louis needs the guy for the stretch drive, especially with Seattle hot on its trail in the NFC West, but rookie Steven Jackson and Lamar Gordon give it two outstanding young backs who can give Faulk what he needs most -- a break.

    Neither is the equal of Faulk -- few backs are -- but both are good enough they could start for some NFL teams. So how do you use them? More specific, how don't you use Marshall Faulk? I'm not sure, but I know who is.

    Mike Martz, come on down.

    "You have to be careful with him," the Rams' head coach said of his prized back. "There's just so much wear and tear. It's a fine line. He's always felt the pressure of having to stay in, even when he was pretty well banged up. But now he has the luxury (of decent backups), so he doesn't have to go more than a couple plays in a row.

    "He's always had to carry the load, so I think this is a relief to him, to be honest with you."

    Now you and I both know Marshall Faulk will go more than a couple of plays in a row. Faulk not only is a terrific player; he's a consummate professional, determined to stay in the huddle until or unless the contest is out of reach. But blowouts are less frequent each year, with 10 of the Rams' 17 games last season decided by 10 or fewer points.

    Five things you should know
    Martz will leave Faulk's availability up to the man who knows best -- Marshall Faulk. If he wants to stay on the field, Martz will let him.

    But it's a balancing act that bears watching. Players are loath to leave the field, with quarterback Steve Young atypically cursing his head coach when he was pulled in the third quarter of a 40-8 loss in 1994. Young wanted a chance to save the day, but George Seifert wanted to win the season, and there was little chance if Young was hurt.

    So, he spared Young, the team won its next 10 and later captured Super Bowl XXIX.

    "Marshall is smart," Martz said. "He knows if there's something where he needs to come out for awhile, he will come out. He's not concerned with stats. He just wants to win. He understands his value to us, and we really will let him dictate that (his availability) to us. That's his decision, not ours."

    Like most backs over 30, Faulk's numbers have begun to decline. From 1999 through 2001, he averaged 1,360 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns a year and became the first player in league history to have four consecutive seasons of 2,000 yards from scrimmage. But the past two seasons have been a different story, with Faulk failing to rush for 1,000 yards in either year, averaging 885 yards and 10.5 TDs overall and dropping to 3.9 yards a carry in 2003, the second-worst figure of his 10-year career.

    Naturally, injuries had something to do with all that. But recurring injuries are signs a back is wearing down and, possibly, wearing out. Faulk had offseason knee surgery, and while Martz said he looks "fine," the head coach has been careful how he uses him in practices.

    Which is how it should be. The club traded up for Jackson because it believes he can be a future star, and he showed signs last weekend with a 125-yard effort against Washington. Gordon is a valuable resource, too, especially now that he feels no discomfort from a left ankle that bothered him the past two years. Doctors recently located and removed a bone chip the size of a thumbnail, and Gordon has resumed running.

    "We've got a real good situation with those other two backs that we can spell him," Martz said of Faulk. "He's going to have more fun with this. He can play a stress-free game and have fun and know that if he gets gassed and has to come out, he can. He doesn't have the entire workload, and I think that's important for him."

    It's important to the Rams, too. With Faulk, the Rams are a complete offense. After returning to the lineup last year, he had five 100-yard games and nine TDs in eight starts. That was a glimpse of what Faulk can do for you. But so were the five games without him.

    Yes, the Rams were 4-1, but they were also one-dimensional. That's one reason they rushed to draft Jackson and why they will be judicious how and when they use Faulk this season.

    "You don't want to get caught short," Martz said. "As we know it's hard to get through the season, and Marshall's such a vital part of our plans and what we can do. So, what you try to do is build guys behind him who are kind of like him -- someone, say, who can catch the ball -- because you never know.

    "It's not so much about life after Marshall. I'm more concerned about this year," added Martz, who feels pressure to win again soon in St. Louis. "I might be preparing for life after Marshall for somebody else, and I'm not real excited about that."

    St. Louis Rams
    Out of Nowhere Man
    WR Kevin Curtis, Utah State

    A third-round draft pick a year ago, Curtis had no impact his rookie season, largely because he was sidelined much of the year with a broken leg. Now he's back, and while he's the club's No. 5 wide receiver, he's pushing Shaun McDonald hard for the fourth spot. Curtis, who set a Utah State career record for catches despite playing only two seasons, has the speed and quickness to be a deep threat.

Related Topics

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  • RamWraith
    Rams balance need, logic in deploying top weapon Faulk
    by RamWraith
    By Clark Judge
    SportsLine.com Senior Writer


    It's not how much time former All-Pro running back Marshall Faulk might miss this season that will determine where St. Louis finishes. It's how much he plays, with the Rams careful how they use a 31-year-old back sidelined with injuries parts of the past four seasons.

    The Rams drafted Steven Jackson in Round 1 for a very good reason. (AP)

    Here's the problem: Faulk is the Rams' best player, and the more he's on the field, the more problems the Rams pose for opponents. But the more he plays, the greater the risk of injury, and he missed a month-and-a-half last year with a broken hand and sore knee.

    It's a sticky situation. St. Louis needs the guy for the stretch drive, especially with Seattle hot on its trail in the NFC West, but rookie Steven Jackson and Lamar Gordon give it two outstanding young backs who can give Faulk what he needs most -- a break.

    Neither is the equal of Faulk -- few backs are -- but both are good enough they could start for some NFL teams. So how do you use them? More specific, how don't you use Marshall Faulk? I'm not sure, but I know who is.

    Mike Martz, come on down.

    "You have to be careful with him," the Rams' head coach said of his prized back. "There's just so much wear and tear. It's a fine line. He's always felt the pressure of having to stay in, even when he was pretty well banged up. But now he has the luxury (of decent backups), so he doesn't have to go more than a couple plays in a row.

    "He's always had to carry the load, so I think this is a relief to him, to be honest with you."

    Now you and I both know Marshall Faulk will go more than a couple of plays in a row. Faulk not only is a terrific player; he's a consummate professional, determined to stay in the huddle until or unless the contest is out of reach. But blowouts are less frequent each year, with 10 of the Rams' 17 games last season decided by 10 or fewer points.

    Martz will leave Faulk's availability up to the man who knows best -- Marshall Faulk. If he wants to stay on the field, Martz will let him.

    But it's a balancing act that bears watching. Players are loath to leave the field, with quarterback Steve Young atypically cursing his head coach when he was pulled in the third quarter of a 40-8 loss in 1994. Young wanted a chance to save the day, but George Seifert wanted to win the season, and there was little chance if Young was hurt.

    So, he spared Young, the team won its next 10 and later captured Super Bowl XXIX.

    "Marshall is smart," Martz said. "He knows if there's something where he needs to come out for awhile, he will come out. He's not concerned with stats. He just wants to win. He understands his value to us, and we really will let him dictate that (his availability)...
    -09-01-2004, 01:40 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
  • 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
  • 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
    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
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