Ask St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo what lies at the heart of his offensive scheme for next season, and he’ll give you two words: Steven Jackson.

As he related in a recent interview with the Sporting News, Spagnuolo has been impressed with SJax’s talent and leadership.

Q: Which position do you feel most comfortable about?
A: The running back (Steven Jackson). I think he’s one of the premier backs in the league. A lot of guys showed tremendous commitment and leadership during the offseason workouts, but he stuck out.

The Rams coach isn’t alone in his optimism about No. 39. Rams blog Turf Show Times recently evaluated the NFC West, and when it came to St. Louis’ offense, blogger VanRam was on the same page with Spagnuolo:

With Steven Jackson, the Rams have the main ingredient for a top notch running game. The new regime knows that, and has spent considerable effort and dollars to make the blocking game more physical and aggressive as part of a new offensive system that will make Jackson the point from which all offense flows.

Meanwhile, Steven is doing everything he can to prepare for the upcoming campaign. As he wrote Wednesday morning on Twitter:

Just finished my am training. Remember keep pressing through hard times. It’s something better on the other side.

Don’t miss Steven on ESPN First Take tomorrow at 8:15 PST.

Rams’ Jackson a ‘premier’ NFL running back (Sporting News, July 1, 2009)
Grading offense in the NFL West (Turf Show Times, July 6, 2009)