Durable Steven Jackson zeroes in on Dickerson, close to becomingr Rams’ career rushing leader

By R.b. Fallstrom, AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jackson closes in on Rams rushing record

ST. LOUIS — Steven Jackson knows exactly how many yards it will take to become the St. Louis Rams’ career rushing leader.

He passed Marshall Faulk for second place last weekend, ignoring a groin strain, and it won’t be long before he barrels past Eric Dickerson and into franchise lore.

“It’s 254 yards to tie, 255 yards to break it,” Jackson said Thursday.

“But,” he added with a chuckle, “Who’s counting?”

Jackson has already cemented his spot as a crowd favorite, winning over fans who felt cheated by a contract holdout a few years earlier and who offered, at times, only grudging appreciation. Many were standing in appreciation when officials stopped Sunday’s game and made sure Jackson got the ball after passing Faulk.

“It’s like one of those things where the marriage now has finally come to fulfillment,” Jackson said. “Everyone understands each other, everyone appreciates each other and we all know what we have in the relationship.

“I think I’d rather start this way than go the opposite way, meaning coming in and being loved and going out a different way.”

Jackson was the Rams’ first-round pick in 2004 out of Oregon State as the heir apparent to Faulk, and was the backup that first year. Since then, he has been the focal point of the offense, and has 6,991 yards rushing while becoming the first Rams player to post five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

Dickerson had 7,245 yards from 1983-87.

“It’s a moment I’m looking forward to,” Jackson said. “And when it happens I’m going to share it with the offensive line.”

Jackson held one finger aloft after the 15-yard carry that eclipsed Faulk, but not as a proclamation of his talent. He said he was pointing to his mother in the stands.

Last week, Jackson practiced only one day and was limited, too, then suited up on game day with a pair of compression shorts plus a protective wrap. Even though he had to run with a choppier stride, he had 70 yards rushing and 64 yards receiving in a victory over the Seahawks.

He’s fourth in the NFC with 284 yards and a 3.9-yard average thus far for the rebuilding Rams (2-2), who play Sunday at Detroit (0-4). The Rams will be going for their first three-game winning streak since the final three games of the 2006 season.

“I just think it’s what all gritty players do,” Jackson said. “I’m not trying to get a pat on the back or win anybody over by being tough, I just think that’s how the game should be played and that’s how I pride myself on playing.

“If it’s something I feel I can play with, I’m more than willing.”

Jackson is feeling much better this week, practicing the last two days. He had one of his best days last year at Detroit, rushing for 149 yards and scoring the clinching touchdown on a 25-yard fourth-quarter jaunt in the Rams’ lone victory.

Jackson and Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh have the same agent, and the running back and No. 2 overall pick hung out this summer in Las Vegas, Jackson’s home town. Jackson teased Suh, who’s from Portland, for choosing Nebraska and not Oregon State, but came away impressed by a rookie that he compared in character with Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.

“He’s someone that’s kind of like Sam, has a world of talent but very humble, very respective,” Jackson said. “Just spending a little bit of time with him, you can see he has his head on right.”

Even if he’s not at full strength, Jackson will help his rookie quarterback get things done just by lining up in the backfield. The Lions will have to respect the run, giving Bradford more time to throw.

“Me being on the field, if that keeps the defense honest or keeps the defensive coordinator worried about his play-calling, I feel like I’ve done a little bit of my job already,” Jackson said.

He’s definitely on the Lions’ minds, especially after last year.

“Steven Jackson took that game over, particularly at the end, and he put the Rams on his back,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “He’s got that capability.”

will not be displayed