Fresh off their most promising showing of the season, Steven Jackson and the St. Louis Rams welcome one of the league's best teams into the Edward Jones Dome this Sunday.
The Rams host the undefeated Indianapolis Colts this weekend looking to send shockwaves through the NFL with a victory.
The Colts come off of their bye week well-rested and will send the NFL's seventh ranked defense at No. 39 this weekend. The Colts allow less than 300 yards per game and just a shade over 14 points per contest. They have allowed only one running back to top 100 yards on the ground this season, Miami Dolphins runner Ronnie Brown.
Steven will look to duplicate the feats of Brown, who also rushed for two touchdowns against the Colts in Week 2. Colts coach Jim Caldwell spoke with reporters this week about the task his defense faces in trying to tame S-Jax.
"Steven Jackson is as big and fine a running back as you'll see. He's one of those rare guys that because of his size and power that you anticipate all he's going to do is run over a guy. He can overpower you but also make you miss. He runs the ball effectively. He catches the ball. He blocks well. You name it, he can do it," the Indianapolis coach told the Tribune Star."
CARRYING THE LOAD
With 501 yards rushing, Steven remains the fourth ranked rusher in the NFL. He's tied for second in the league in carries with 120.
But Steven is also one of St. Louis' most often featured targets in the receiving game. He leads the team in catches with 20 and is fourth in receiving yards with 170. Among non-quarterbacks, Steven ranks fourth in the league in yards per game with 111.8. He trails only Ravens running back Ray Rice is receiving yards for a running back.
Steven's workload and production in the Rams offense is a stark contrast to the way that Indianapolis uses its running back. The Colts are one of many teams that have gone two a two-back stable, with rookie Donald Brown and veteran Joseph Addai.
The two backs have combined for 364 yards rushing on 106 carries, both totals lower than Steven's contributions to the Rams alone.
In a report for the Indianapolis Star reporter Mike Chappell takes a look at the differences in the two game plans and talked to Addai about the time-share:
"Everybody wants to be the guy," Addai said. "Who doesn't want 20 carries a game? But what we get — going into the game and knowing the situation — we're all right."
Steven professed this offseason that he takes pride in being the lone-back, as some of his idols were, as quoted by Yahoo! Sports:
"This is why I take such pride in being productive, showing that all teams don't have to use the multiple-back system. The Bo Jackson, the Walter Payton, the Marcus Allen – the guys who don't come off the field. That breed is not ‘round anymore. I kind of feel like I'm that generation."
Rumors swirled around this past Tuesday's trade deadline about the possibility of the Rams trading Steven.
Despite the rumors, the Rams never explored such an option and told No. 39 as much on Saturday when they arrived in Jacksonville and the rumors started getting louder.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the discussion was just a clarification to Steven:
"They wanted to assure him that they never considered moving him and that he was a big part of their plans for the season and for the future."
The day before the deadline, Jeff Gordon of the Post-Dispatch penned a column about exactly why the Rams couldn't consider trading S-Jax, comparing SJ39 to St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols:
"Both proposals come up often on my live chats at STLtoday.com. Sports fans love to propose blockbuster trades, even if the deals could prove ruinous to their teams.
These cases are dramatically different, due to the contrasting state of the two franchises. The Cardinals expect to contend the next few years, while the Rams are in rebuild mode.
In both cases, though, the local teams should hang onto their cornerstone players."
To read Gordon's entire column, click here.
LET'S GET IT STARTED
The Rams and the Colts do battle this Sunday from the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Kickoff is scheduled for Noon CST and all the action can be seen live on CBS where Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots have the call.
Rams are winless, but Colts don't care (Tribune-Star, October 22, 2009)
Running Backs don't mind sharing carries (The Indianapolis Star, October 23, 2009)
No deal! Pujols, Jackson have to stay (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 19, 2009)
St. Louis Rams trade Witherspoon to Eagles for Gibson, pick (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 21, 2009)