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No resolution in sight as Rams' Jackson continues to hold out

MEQUON, Wis. -- Steven Jackson missed his fourth day of St. Louis Rams training camp Monday. The holdout running back is keeping in touch, though.

Coach Scott Linehan hasn't spoken with Jackson since Wednesday, when he was informed there would be an empty seat on the team charter flight north. Instead, he's been text-messaging with a player apparently eager for updates while making a stand for a new contract.

Obvious impact

</center>*The Rams fared a lot better on the ground with Steven Jackson in the backfield than they did without him last season:*  

With Steven Jackson ...

  » Games: 12

  » Rushing yard avg.: 101

  » Rush TDs per game: .42

... without Steven Jackson

  » Games: 4

  » Rushing yard avg.: 76

  » Rush TDs per game: 0

Several teammates also have been in contact, including backup running back Antonio Pittman, who's been getting the bulk of Jackson's carries. Pittman said he's spoken with Jackson, while staying out of the impasse.

"I'm just trying to come out here and set the tone and just let the coaches know that when Steven does come out of the game the level of competition will not fall off, and we can keep it rolling," Pittman said.

Tight end Randy McMichael said he's checked in several times with Jackson.

"He misses it, don't think he doesn't miss this because I know he does," McMichael said. "But this is the business part of the game. He's not the first person to do it and he's not going to be the last person to do it. It's just part of the game."

Jackson, a bruising runner coming off his third consecutive 1,000-yard season despite missing four games last year, is entering the final year of a deal he signed after the Rams took him in the first round of the 2004 draft. He's a key piece of an offense that averaged only 16 points last year while riddled with injuries especially on the line.

"I see how he's doing and what he's doing," Linehan said. "Obviously, we've got to take care of this first, but I just kind of let him know where we're at, and some of the things that are going on.

"He's real focused on what's going on in camp, his head's definitely in the right place."

Linehan said he had "no idea" where Jackson is during the holdout. Second-round pick Donnie Avery, a wide receiver from Houston, stayed in a hotel a few miles from training camp and was able to quickly join the team after getting his contract done on Saturday.

The coach also said Jay Zygmunt, the team's president of football operations, again reported no progress.

"We talk about it all the time, and there's really nothing new to add," Linehan said.

In the meantime, Pittman and Brian Leonard, a second-round pick last year who started seven games at tailback and fullback, are getting long looks. Pittman had 139 yards last season while Leonard had 303 yards. Both averaged less than 4 yards a carry.

Pittman was a fourth-round pick of the Saints last year after leaving Ohio State as a junior and was among that team's final preseason cuts before resurfacing with the Rams. He's one of only five Ohio State backs with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

"We made an investment in our future picking him up last year, knowing he wouldn't be ready and wouldn't know our system," Linehan said. "By the middle of the year we were able to use him, he was able to get a lot of great reps in the offseason, and now he's working with the (first team), so it's night and day for him."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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