Though he’s only been coaching the Rams for a couple of months, head coach Jeff Fisher knows he has something special in starting running back Steven Jackson.
So after SJ39 rushed for 66 yards on 11 carries in the Rams’ first two preseason games, Fisher decided that he would use Steven sparingly in the team’s third preseason game on Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys.
Instead rookies Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson split the carries with the first unity and SJ was on the field for just five plays, all of them passes.
“Jack showed that Jack’s ready to go this year,” Fisher said. “He came out of the blocks quick. We’re going to try to get him as many reps as we can. The staff has talked about trying to get [the rookies] reps with the 1s. Get them in there and let them run behind with the first group.”
Richardson was impressive and carried 10 times for 51 yards on the 20-19 Rams loss to Dallas. The rookie from Abilene Christian told reporters afterward that a talk with Steven helped set him up for a breakout performance.
“I’m just trying be 100 percent on my assignments and my techniques,” said Richardson. “When I first started running, Steven Jackson kind of told me, ‘In the NFL, you have to make that first cut and then try to get up field.’ That’s what I’ve tried to do. When I see that seam, I try to hit it.”
Throughout camp, Steven has been pleased with what he has seen from both rookies.
“I think their running styles are very effective each into what they do best,” he said. “I think overall it’s going to be a tough decision. I think both guys are very talented.”
The Rams fell behind early as the Cowboys built a 10-0 lead in the first eight minutes of the game. Steven was in for the first play of the next series and Dallas bit on play action to him, setting up Lance Kendricks for a 26-yard catch on a Sam Bradford throw. The big play put the Rams in field goal range and Greg Zuerlein hit a 55-yard field goal to make it 10-3.
“We didn’t move the ball like we would like to and like we did last week against Kansas City,” S-Jax said. “But this is what training camp provides. It puts stuff on film so we can correct it, make sure we are running the scheme right, communicating right up front. But all the mistakes we made as far as the offense, are all things that are correctable.”
The Dallas offense continued to pile up the points and took a 20-6 lead into halftime, but the Rams fought back for two unanswered scores in the second half and only a missed extra point kept them from tying the game. SJ said the resilience of the Rams backups and third teamers, many of whom will be on the cut line in the coming weeks was a great sign for the team.
“You like to see these guys compete like that,” Steven said. “They made the game competitive at the end. Guys are fighting for roster spots and you see that we have depth in areas. It’s going to be tough these next couple of days going into the last preseason game.”
It’s a part of every training camp, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
The first cut day came around for the Rams on Monday as they trimmed their roster from 90 to 75, letting go of 15 players in the process. The Rams will have to part with another 22 players by opening day to get down to the 53 a team is allowed to carry into the regular season.
Though he’s never been on the cut line, Steven Jackson understands the pressures associated with it and how those days change the dynamic of the locker room.
“It’s tough on everyone because over a month’s time you get a chance to be around someone for quite some time, share stories, find likeness,” running back Steven Jackson said. “And the reality of this business is that we won’t all be together come September 9. … You wish everyone the best, and everyone’s trying to make a living, and you hope that they can have a long, prosperous career.”
The Rams complete the preseason portion of their schedule on Thursday night in St. Louis against the Baltimore Ravens.
Coach Jeff Fisher told reporters this week that expects Steven to tote the ball a few times in the preseason finale just to get ready for the team’s opener against the Lions on September 9. Rams starters are expected to play into the third quarter in the dress rehearsal game, but Fisher isn’t sure if SJ, who he believes has proven he’s ready to go, will play that long.
“He’s going to carry a little bit,” Fisher. “You can tell we kind of gave him the week off from last weekend from the standpoint of carrying the ball. But I’d like to get him some reps and get him banged around a little bit and get him ready for Detroit.”
Kickoff of Thursday’s game is slated for 6 p.m. CDT and the game can be seen live locally on KTVI FOX 2. NFL Network will re-broadcast the game nationally on Saturday at 3 p.m. CDT.
- RB Steven Jackson Press Conference (StLouisRams.com, August 23, 2012)
- Rookie Runners Get Opportunity (StLouisRams.com, August 26, 2012)
- Difficult Decisions Await as Cuts Begin (StLouisRams.com, August 26, 2012)
- Cowboys shred Rams’ Secondary, (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 26, 2012)
- Offensive line still not intact (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 26, 2012)
- Cutdown day looming as Rams face Cowboys (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 25, 2012)
- Rams-Cowboys: Five things to watch (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 25, 2012)
- Rams sticking to business (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 24, 2012)
- Preseason Week 3: Things To Keep An Eye On – Review (Ramblin’ Fan, August 26, 2012)
- Rams Roster Battle Brewing Behind Steven Jackson? (Turf Show Times, August 21, 2012)
- Offensive Line, Running Back Picture Still Cloudy (Turf Show Times, August 28, 2012) Jackson’s backup still unknown (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 29, 2012)
- Rams Rally Comes Up Short (StLouisRams.com, August 26, 2012)