Steven successfully made it through his second practice of the week Friday, and remains highly optimistic about returning to the gridiron this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

“I’ve had two good days of practice and no major setbacks,” Jackson said. “The leg’s a little sore but I was able to, I guess, give Coach (Jim) Haslett what he wanted to see. … He said that if I practice, I would play, so that’s what I intend on doing.”

Though Haslett was pleased with Jackson’s progress, he still remained tentative about making any decisions on Steven’s Sunday status.

“As (Thursday’s) practice wore on, I thought it was better,” Haslett said. “But we’ll talk to the coaches and Steven and see how he is and make sure that he’s 100 percent. He still has to put it in the ground.”

Jackson described his thigh as being “light years ahead” of how it felt when he reaggravated the injury against Arizona on Nov. 2.

“I’m able to cut, I’m able to burst, and I’m able to do all the agility things that I need to do in the hole,” Jackson said. “Dodging the defender and all of that.”

Just getting back on the field would be a huge confidence boost for Steven, who admits it’s been a long, long year.

“I don’t know about the team, but it would do a lot for me and my spirits right now,” he said. “Like I said, it’s been a long year for me and the team, and these last five games, ideally, I’d love to go out 5-0. I don’t think anyone has given up on the season. I think a lot of guys have many different reasons to play hard and continue to play hard.”

Even if No. 39 gets back on the field this Sunday, don’t expect to see the lightning-quick, stiff-arming, high-stepping SJ we’re accustomed to. He’ll get there, but it will take time.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll be a little rusty, but just being able to run the ball hard and down hill. This is a defense that swarms to the football,” Jackson said. “You have to be aggressive, and that’s the feel to the offense I’m going to try to bring.”

Steven said he’s looking forward to getting some goal-line carries in practice to see if his right thigh, which he described as having equal strength as his left, can withstand the abuse.

“That’s the next thing,” Jackson said. “Although I am practicing, I am still going to have to run through some arm tackles, drag some guys around. I think all of that will come in the weeks to come. The leg strength is there. We have been working on that since the injury happened. As the week goes by, comfort will come and the doubt in my mind will leave as well.”

Steven looks forward to facing a tough Miami defense this Sunday, as the Rams host the Dolphins at 12 p.m. CST on CBS. Though his ability to play isn’t certain, all signs are pointing toward SJ getting back to work.

St. Louis Rams’ Steven Jackson is eager to play (STLtoday, Nov. 28, 2008)
Haslett still has doubts about star running back (Ramblings, Nov. 28, 2008)
Jackson headed toward return (, Nov. 27, 2008)