Monday, October 29, 2007

Briefly, Jackson shows why he’s one of NFL’s best

By Bill Coats
10/28/2007 7:15 pm

The absurd notion by some Rams observers that Steven Jackson is something less than an elite NFL running back should have learned their lesson during Sunday’s 27-20 loss the Browns.

With Jackson back in the lineup after missing a month with a torn groin muscle, the Rams were an offensive juggernaut that rolled to a 14-0 lead in the first 10 minutes. They finally were showing off the attack that so many expected before this train wreck of a season began.

Jackson pounded out 41 yards on eight carries, caught two passes for 9 yards, and was on pace for a 200-plus yard day when his back went into spasms late in the opening period. The Rams also locked up, mustering only 27 rushing yards and two field goals over the final 45 minutes with Jackson on the sideline.

Rookie Brian Leonard is a solid back, but he can’t come close to matching the speed, strength and electricity Jackson provides. Nor can many other backs in the league.

“When he’s in there, you can see we’re explosive,” quarterback Marc Bulger said. “When he got hurt, it changed our team, plain and simple.”


The Rams have a bye next Sunday, although coach Scott Linehan hasn’t called recess just yet. He’s scheduled practices for Tuesday and Wednesday at Rams Park before dismissing the troops.


The timing of the bye was debated in the locker room Sunday. Some players said that at 0-8, the team might be better served by sticking to the routine and plowing forward. More, however, felt that the break was badly needed.

“It comes at a great time,” Jackson said. “I think we need this bye for guys to get away for a while and collect their thoughts, the coaches do the same thing, and hopefully we come back strong.”

Added guard Richie Incognito: “It’s 50-50 on the bye week; we can keep pushing or take a week to reflect. Either way, we’ve just got to play better.”


Notes & quotes:

>>Browns WR Braylon Edwards made some eye-popping grabs to overcome generally tight coverage by CB Fakhir Brown. “I felt like I was there, but I didn’t make any plays on the ball,” Brown said.

>>Needing 6 inches on fourth down against the NFL’s worst defense to keep their hopes alive late in the final two minutes, the Rams failed. RB Brian Leonard was stuffed by SS Sean Jones for no gain. “I had his leg and wouldn’t let go,” Jones said.

>>WR Drew Bennett, finally healthy after thigh and hamstring injuries, had his best day with the Rams, catching six passes for 63 yards.

>>Nick Leckey performed adequately at RG after Incognito left in the first quarter with a sprained right knee. Leckey, normally a center, never had played guard in the NFL, although he was a LG for three years at Kansas State.

>>The Rams held a 170-47 yardage edge after the first period. The Browns had a 321-223 advantage the rest of the way.

>>Unlike the Dolphins, the Rams are winless on only one continent.

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