Steven Jackson and the St. Louis Rams wrapped up the preseason with a pristine 4-0 record. A year after nearly making the playoffs, Steven and his teammates enter the 2011-12 NFL intent on doing even better. For Steven, that means leading even more effectively — on and off the field — than ever before.

I set goals for myself each and every year. I believe that each person should be goal-oriented and should seek to accomplish things that they dream of.

Putting those things on paper makes it more of a reality, something that you’re working to achieve. So I definitely do still do that.

When I take my helmet off, I’m still a leader on this team and my goals reflect that (Post-Dispatch).

This year my goals are very team-oriented though. Years previous, it was different because I would always put down a number that I wanted to rush for and a number of touchdowns I wanted to score.

This year I’m taking a different approach. I want to play at a Pro Bowl level and use my own individual ability to catapult us into a playoff appearance. Ultimately, I’m looking this year to be a great leader, lead my team to a playoff appearance and win the NFC title.

Guys are motivated by how close we came in 2010, especially guys that were here last year. Seeing how close we were to winning our division, going to the playoffs and hosting a game against the New Orleans Saints, that catapulted us into the offseason. It motivated every guy to come out this year and work to advance ourselves from a 7-9 team.

Coming from 1-15 to 7-9, we’ve definitely made some great strides. Now it’s time to win those games that maybe we were too young, or not experienced enough in winning, to closeout last year. We had a lot of close games last year and we should be able to win those games now.

My goals are very team oriented because I recognize that I am a leader of this team. I set things out for this group of 53-men to achieve as a group, rather than just myself as an individual.

As a vet you definitely you have to set the example day-in and day-out, show the younger guys how you practice, how you prepare yourself at this level and how you learn a new offense.

Just the daily grind, mentally and physically, you have to show them that. They’re trying to adjust from a college season to a National Football League season and we’ve all been there as players.

As a vet I can be there to calm their nerves too. This is a moment that they’ve all been dreaming about and waiting on. Once it gets here, it can be somewhat overwhelming. You feel like you always have to execute the perfect play and you can’t make a mistake. When guys make a mistake, some guys just go into such a funk that they have a horrible game the rest of the way. Then that puts your job on the line.

The key is, if you make a mistake, you bounce back and respond in a positive way and make the next play. If you can show that in that situation you’re not going to buckle and let the moment overtake you, you’ll be better off and the team will see that.

Cuts are always hard thing.

We had a couple of my close friends on the team leave before this season in OJ Atogwe and Mike Karney. It’s hard in this business. I’ve been here in St. Louis for eight years now and I am the longest tenured Ram, so I’ve definitely seen numbers and locker rooms turn over way too many times.

I still keep in touch with those two guys, OJ and Mike. I talk to Karney once a week. I haven’t talked to OJ in a while, but he just got married this summer and I sent my congratulations and wished him the best. I can’t wait to see him when we play Washington this year.

But at a certain point, you do become somewhat immune to the custom and the way the NFL works. That’s where becoming friends off the field is way more important than valuing someone just as a teammate. You never know when a teammate is going to become an opponent.

For us now though, it’s on to the season. I hope all you fans are as ready as I am.