Jackson excited about Rams' revamp under new coach Spagnuolo

ST. LOUIS -- Rams running back Steven Jackson figures to have some much-needed blocking help next season, and he's excited about the idea.

St. Louis hasn't really had a fullback since Madison Hedgecock was released in 2007. But that changed with the signing of Mike Karney, who was released by the New Orleans Saints.

During minicamp Friday, Jackson said he was pleased by the additions of Karney and former Baltimore Ravens center Jason Brown, who was the Rams' big offseason upgrade.

"You can tell they are both really good pickups for us," Jackson said. "We were excited we were able to sign Mike and then put the icing on the cake with a center who comes from an organization that was known for winning. I think it's really going to help us out."

The new leadership of the Rams -- general manager Billy Devaney and first-year coach Steve Spagnuolo -- made signing a fullback a top priority.

Despite the lack of a fullback and nagging injuries, Jackson has topped 1,000 rushing yards in each of the past four seasons. Still, Jackson has campaigned for a blocking back ever since former coach Scott Linehan released Hedgecock, who went to the New York Giants and helped them win the Super Bowl in the 2008 season.

Last year, Jackson missed training camp in a contract holdout and missed five games with a thigh injury. This year, he began working out even before minicamp in hopes of avoiding another injury, hitting the weights hard with strength coach Rock Gullickson.

But Jackson said it was good to get back on the field in the first minicamp since Spagnuolo's arrival.

"I was real excited to get out, get back to playing football, learning the new offense and just getting a feel for the new coaching staff," Jackson said. "I think that's important for us to get a feel for what's to come in the summer."

Jackson said his first impression of Spagnuolo was that of a demanding yet fair taskmaster.

"You can tell that he is definitely a disciplinarian," Jackson said. "He's a straight shooter. There is going to be no gray areas. He is going to tell you what he expects, and he is going to coach you up.

"You could definitely feel the tempo and the change as a team, the aggressiveness of the defense now and the timing routes of the offense," Jackson said. "It looks to be exciting. We have a lot to learn still, but it's good to start off this way.

"We're looking to turn this organization around, and I think that's what you're seeing in this minicamp."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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