Jackson finally healthy, sets sights on Rams' rushing record

ST. LOUIS -- Steven Jackson said he's completely healed from a nagging injury that hampered him the last two games.

That should make the final stages of his quest to become the St. Louis Rams' career leading rusher more comfortable.

Jackson passed 2000 NFL MVP Marshall Faulk two weeks ago for second place, and he needs 141 yards to top Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, who ran for 7,245 yards from 1983 to 1987. With a big game at home Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, the record could be Jackson's.

Unlike last week, when Jackson knew exactly how many yards he needed, he was certain Thursday only that he was getting close and that he wanted to eclipse Dickerson in a victory.

"I would like to break the record as soon as possible," Jackson said. "I think it would be special to do it at home. The thing I'm focused on is helping lead this young team to a win."

To that end, he's prepared for a heavy workload that would take pressure off rookie quarterback Sam Bradford.

Jackson wore extra padding two weeks ago but shed that protection last week. Although short of his best, the 235-pound Jackson ran for 114 yards last week at Detroit.

Coaches say Jackson has looked more like himself this week in practice, with longer strides and better cuts, clearly recovering from a strained groin.

The Chargers expect a handful.

"Obviously, he breaks a lot of tackles," San Diego coach Norv Turner said. "He's a very powerful and elusive guy. I've been lucky to be around some great runners, and he's like a lot of the guys I've been around."

Jackson has long been an admirer of Dickerson, who also was a big back at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. Dickerson also played for the Indianapolis Colts during an 11-year career, and he is sixth on the league's career rushing list, with 13,295 yards. He scored 90 touchdowns.

Dickerson had five monster years with the then-Los Angeles Rams to open his career after he was taken with the second pick of the 1983 draft. He holds the NFL single-season record with 2,105 yards in 1984 after having 1,808 as a rookie, and he led the NFL in rushing four times.

It's difficult to compare eras and rate supporting casts, but Jackson, too, has made an impact for the Rams. His best season was 2006, when he amassed 1,528 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was second in the NFL with 1,416 yards last year, and, despite the injury, he's fourth in the NFC with 398 yards and a 4.1-yard average this season.

Jackson recalls spending time with Dickerson earlier in his career but has lost touch lately.

"He's always been nice to me, he's always been available for me to talk to," Jackson said. "I've always been a fan -- I'm a little biased -- toward big running backs.

"His speed, his awareness on the field, his vision, I think he embodies everything that I would like to be."

Beyond the elements that make a successful running back, Jackson has tried to set an example for younger players to follow. After a promising beginning to the season, the Rams (2-3) had a dud last week in an embarrassing 44-6 loss at Detroit.

His advice: It's only one game.

"You don't want to get caught in looking back and having regrets about it," Jackson said. "You've just got to learn from your mistakes, not want to have that feeling again, and focus on the next team, because the next team is what's the most important."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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