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  • Jackson and Faulk may be too banged up to play

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Dec. 08 2004

    Rams running back Marshall Faulk practiced on Wednesday. Steven Jackson didn't.
    And Arlen Harris got plenty of work with the starters.

    But as to who will start at running back, and how much each of them will play
    Sunday against Carolina, well, that remains very much up in the air.

    Despite giving an extremely qualified nod in Harris' direction as his probable
    starter, coach Mike Martz said Wednesday that Faulk and Jackson and their
    bruised knees will be available to play against the Panthers.

    "Steven will be ready to go," Martz said. "So will Marshall."

    Jackson suffered his injury Sunday against San Francisco en route to a 119-yard
    rushing day. There is no structural damage or ligament problems, Martz said.
    But the knee swelled up overnight Sunday. As a result, excess fluid had to be
    drained from the knee. Jackson watched Wednesday practice in sweats.

    "He feels a whole lot better," Martz said. "I'd like to give him some reps here
    during the week. Hopefully on Friday, and maybe a little bit (today). But we'll
    just see. ... We're going to do the right thing by him physically."

    Reading between the lines, it seems that Martz would like to rest Faulk's knee
    one more week if possible. But while Jackson was watching, Faulk was getting
    some work with the first unit Wednesday in practice.

    "I wish he didn't" practice, Martz said. "Especially this time of week. I'd
    rather he do a little more work (Thursday), and then back off on Friday."

    Jackson isn't sure when he injured his knee against the *****. But one thing
    came through loud and clear Wednesday: He's no fan of the artificial surface at
    the Edward Jones Dome.

    "That surface there is unforgiving," Jackson said. "You're basically taking two
    hits on the play. Not only are you getting hit by the defender, but you're
    taking quite a blow hitting that turf. These next two weeks, I'm happy we're on
    grass."

    Following the Carolina game, the Rams play Dec. 19 at Arizona.

    Despite being in some discomfort Wednesday, Jackson sounded as if there was no
    doubt about his playing status against the Panthers. "It's all right," he said.
    "I'll be there."

    Jackson said he probably has spent more time in the training room getting
    treatment this week than the rest of the season combined. Jackson was listed as
    questionable, with Faulk probable, on the Rams' first official injury report of
    the week.

    With Faulk hurting and the season at a critical stage, Jackson feels some
    pressure to bounce back and play despite his injury.

    "You have things going in the right direction, and I had a pretty good game on
    the ground (against San Francisco)." he said. "We're going to need a physical
    kind of running style this weekend because they're a physical defense."

    Martz expressed some frustration Monday about Jackson's injury, but Jackson
    said he understood.

    "Once you get something good in one direction, and then something like this
    happens, it can tend to be a little overwhelming," Jackson said.

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  • RamWraith
    Jackson Ready for Action
    by RamWraith
    Saturday, December 4, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    The first time the ***** and Rams met, rookie running back Steven Jackson made a statement about what kind of player he could be. This time, he will get the opportunity to show the NFL what he is.

    With starting running back Marshall Faulk likely a gametime decision because of a bruised left knee (Faulk is questionable on the injury report), Jackson will get his first chance to get the majority of the work at running back. Faulk sat out practice on Thursday and Friday and will not participate in any practice this week.

    Rams coach Mike Martz confirmed that Faulk’s injury will make it difficult to play and Jackson will likely pick up the slack.

    “He's going to carry the load this week," Martz said. “We’ve got to give Marshall a chance to recover.”

    Faulk is the team’s leading rusher with 683 yards and three touchdowns on the season. He took a hit to the knee against Atlanta on Sept. 19 and left the game for a short period before returning. There were no indications that the knee bothered him soon after that, but it has been apparent in recent weeks, as Faulk has struggled to get anything going on the ground.

    Against Buffalo, Faulk gained just 6 yards on 13 carries and Green Bay held him to 7 yards on seven carries. Most of that can be directly attributed to his knee problems, as Faulk gained 139 yards against Seattle on Nov. 14. The left knee is the second knee Faulk has injured. He has had surgeries to repair his right knee.

    Marshall has been banged up the last few weeks, and he has been very sore," Martz said. "We didn't manage him very well. We probably played him more than we should have.

    Jackson’s opportunity has been a long time in the making. After struggling early in the preseason with blitz pickups and the small nuances of the game, Jackson has come on strong. It became evident as the season went along and Jackson’s workload began to increase. In recent weeks, Jackson and Faulk have essentially shared the carries.
    Now, Jackson is ready to take his shot at being the man in the backfield for the Rams.

    “I’m very excited,” Jackson said. “This is something I have been waiting on since I joined the organization. I feel that there is a lot of pressure on me right now, but I think I am going to stand tall and I’m going to handle it pretty well.”

    If Jackson handles this opportunity as well as he did the first one against San Francisco, he will almost certainly be in for a big day. The ***** are solid against the run, with a stout front seven, but the Rams shredded that group in the first meeting.

    Faulk had 121 yards in that game and, in what would be his first coming out party on national television; Jackson ran for 46 yards and scored his first career touchdown on a 24-yard jaunt. Perhaps...
    -12-05-2004, 06:28 AM
  • RamWraith
    Jackson is getting his chance to shine
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    12/04/2004
    It may be for just one Sunday. It may be for the next 10 years. Or somewhere in between.

    But Steven Jackson is replacing the great Marshall Faulk at running back Sunday against San Francisco.

    "I'm very excited," Jackson said Friday. "This is something I've been waiting on since I joined this organization. I feel there's a lot of pressure on me right now, but I think I'm going to stand tall, and I'm going to handle it pretty well."

    Pressure? Well, Faulk is a certain Hall of Famer and arguably the best all-purpose back in NFL history. As for the Rams as a whole, they've reached a critical stage of the season. At 5-6 and losers of four of their last five contests, they desperately need something to jump-start them out of their funk and into the playoffs.

    Can Jackson help provide that spark?

    "We need a change-up, and I'm going to have an opportunity to do that," Jackson said. "To give this offense and this team a different approach."

    At 6 feet 2, 231 pounds, Jackson is a different style back than Faulk. He's 20 pounds heavier and more of a power runner. But he's no slowpoke. Jackson has shown an ability to turn the corner and the quick feet to jump-cut and change directions quickly.

    He was a workhorse in college at Oregon State, the kind of back who got stronger as the game progressed.

    "We're all kind of anxious to put him in that kind of a role, and see what he'll do here," coach Mike Martz said.

    Jackson believes he's up to the task.

    "That's my style of play," Jackson said. "I'm willing to get those knickknack yards at the beginning of the game. But then as the game progresses, I wear down the defense. That's where my big gains come. So as long as we can stay in the ballgame, and we can run the ball successfully, I think that's something that can very well happen."

    No, Jackson doesn't lack for confidence. He's self-assured, but not ****y. And he has been respectable of Faulk all season, taking spot duty when it comes and waiting for his time.

    "It's been difficult," Jackson said. "At the same time, it's given me a chance to get my feet wet. I've been able to participate in all the games this year, so it's not something where I'm coming in with cold feet.

    "I know what to expect. I had a good game against these guys earlier this year, so I'm going into a situation that's fairly easy for me."

    Easy, as in comfortable. Jackson carried 10 times for 46 yards when the Rams defeated San Francisco 24-14 on Oct. 3, scoring his first NFL touchdown. During that Sunday night game, San Francisco cornerback Mike Rumph made the mistake of trying to bring down Jackson in the open field with...
    -12-05-2004, 06:29 AM
  • RamWraith
    Jackson prepares to go full tilt
    by RamWraith
    Post Dispatch

    Running back Steven Jackson remembered how the rib injury happened Saturday in Seattle, but not exactly when.

    "It was just in the middle of the pile, and I caught a helmet to the ribs," Jackson said Tuesday. "It was something that was affecting my breathing a little bit.

    "It was during the first half of the game. I was still going in and out of the game, not wanting to miss a second if I could. It's been a long season for me. But playoff time, you've got to lay it out there on the line."

    At the time of the injury, it was announced that Jackson had bruised ribs. He finished his first NFL playoff game with 10 carries for 36 yards, marking the first time in three games he had fewer carries than teammate Marshall Faulk. Faulk finished with 13 carries for 55 yards, scoring the Rams' second touchdown in the team's 27-20 victory over the Seahawks.

    Back in St. Louis, Jackson underwent further examination on the ribs.

    "I wanted to get them looked at and make sure that they were all right," he said. "The MRI just showed it as a muscle strain. It feels a lot better. It has loosened up. Over these two or three days that we had off, it's feeling a lot better and I'll be ready for Saturday."

    The Rams travel to Atlanta for Saturday's NFC divisional game in the Georgia Dome. Jackson said he doesn't plan to wear a flak jacket to protect the ribs.

    As for his right knee injury, Jackson said, "It's not even an issue right now. I'm still rehabbing it. They're still treating it as an injury. But these last couple weeks, it's feeling great."

    Two sources at Rams Park have told the Post-Dispatch that one of the main reasons Jackson didn't play Dec. 19 in Arizona was concern over Jackson's right knee, which suffered a torn ligament Dec. 5 against San Francisco.

    In the immediate aftermath of that crushing 31-7 loss to the Cardinals, coach Mike Martz gave a couple of bizarre explanations for not playing Jackson. Martz said he wasn't aware that Jackson didn't play. He also said playing time at halfback was up to Faulk and running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery.

    But Jackson shed some light on the subject Tuesday. There was at least some concern at Rams Park that Jackson might subject himself to further injury against the Big Red because he couldn't make sharp cuts on the knee.

    "We had a discussion on it," Jackson said, referring to himself and Montgomery. "It really wasn't a full discussion on if I was going to play or not. But we did have a discussion about concern for the knee, and what would be best for me long-term.

    "I never came out and said anything about it. I just made jokes about it, saying I didn't know I didn't play. Or what game? But I have a great deal of respect for this coaching staff....
    -01-12-2005, 05:01 AM
  • RamWraith
    Steven Jackson has sore knee, is expected to play
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Dec. 28 2004

    Three weeks ago, running back Steven Jackson was walking on crutches because of
    a swollen ankle the day after the Rams' 16-6 victory over San Francisco.

    As was the case against the *****, Jackson couldn't finish Monday night's game
    with Philadelphia after banging his knee on the artificial turf at the Edward
    Jones Dome. But this time there were no crutches and, apparently, little to no
    swelling in Jackson's knee.

    An MRI exam Tuesday revealed no structural damage, only a soft tissue bruise.

    "He's fine," Martz said. "There's no damage. In fact, there's a significant
    healing from the tear."

    The tear? Apparently Jackson suffered a slightly torn medial collateral
    ligament in his right knee against San Francisco. Such injuries do not require
    surgery and basically heal with time.

    In any event, Martz expects Jackson to play in Sunday's regular-season finale
    against the New York Jets.

    "He probably will," Martz said. "I think it was more just aggravating a sore
    knee."

    Jackson made the last of his 24 carries against Philadelphia with just over 10
    minutes to play. Before calling it a night, Jackson rushed for a career-high
    148 yards and a touchdown in the Rams' 20-7 victory.

    "He was terrific," Martz said. "He looks like a great runner to me. That first
    series in there, we were handing the ball off to him and he was running through
    them, around them, every which way you can. He's a terrific back, and the
    offensive line did a terrific job."

    With Jackson getting six carries and Marshall Faulk four, the Rams ran the ball
    10 consecutive times on their opening drive. When asked if he could recall a
    situation in which he ran the ball that many times in a row, Martz paused and
    replied: "No."

    He came close Dec. 12 against Carolina, calling nine straight running plays -
    all involving Arlen Harris - on a drive that began late in the third quarter.

    Before Monday night was over, the Rams had run the ball 44 times for 209 yards
    against the Eagles - both season highs. So why such a conviction to run the
    ball against Philadelphia?

    "Whenever we've had success against Philadelphia, we've run the ball well,"
    Martz said. "You start getting into a passing game with them, then they sack
    you and create bad plays. Knock your quarterback out. And all that stuff.

    "I didn't think we would do that well (running), obviously. But as long as we
    kept going - it's just like throwing the ball. If you keep completing it, you
    ...
    -12-30-2004, 05:01 AM
  • RamWraith
    Jackson was ready, but didn't play
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    12/19/2004

    TEMPE, Ariz. - One of the more bizarre occurrences of an increasingly bizarre Rams season was the sight of Steven Jackson - the first running back selected in the 2004 draft - standing on the Rams' sidelines.

    All day long.

    Even though his bruised right knee was deemed healthy, Jackson did not play in Sunday's 31-7 loss to Arizona.

    "He was healthy," Martz said. "They blitzed us just about every snap the first half, and you need to have a guy in there that kind of knows what's going on. We felt like with the blitz pickups, that we could use Marshall in some of the pass routes."

    So Jackson was not ready to be used in such a role?

    "No, that's not what I'm saying," Martz said. "There's nothing wrong with Marshall, I guess, is probably what I'm trying to tell you."

    Martz, who obviously was disappointed in the Rams' run blocking, then added: "Is Steven going to make the difference in that game by being in there? No. Whether Marshall loses four yards or Steven loses four yards, which one you want? It just doesn't matter at that point. Your best player's Marshall right now. How'd you like his third-and-one run?"

    In one of the few highlights for the Rams on Sunday, Faulk made a spinning move to fight for extra yardage and a first down on a third-and-one carry in the third quarter. But that was about it for the running game.

    The Rams gained a season-low 22 rushing yards on 10 carries - all by Faulk. The lack of output was particularly puzzling, because the Cardinals have one of the league's worst run defenses. Over the past six games, the Big Red have allowed 167 rushing yards per contest and 5.1 yards a carry.

    Martz says he generally leaves it up to running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery on how much Faulk plays and how much Jackson plays.

    "Marshall didn't want to come out," Martz said. "He was playing fine. ... That's not an issue to me."

    Jackson basically declined comment after the game.

    "I didn't play," he said. "I've got nothing to say."

    When asked if he was surprised that he played the entire game, Faulk said, "I didn't pay any attention to it. Things were just kind of going on out there. I didn't have time to kind of explain to (Jackson) what was going on. So I didn't want to just throw him out there and not alert him to the different things that were happening out there."

    In the early going, the Cardinals gave the Rams a lot of different looks with their defensive front seven - looks that the Rams had not anticipated. Faulk said he was trying to figure out himself what the Big Red were doing, in consultation with Montgomery.

    "They mixed it up pretty good,"...
    -12-20-2004, 05:15 AM
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