Rams' Jackson feeling good to play; Haslett still cautious

ST. LOUIS -- Rams running back Steven Jackson said Thursday that he's optimistic he'll be able to play Sunday against Miami but coach Jim Haslett is still being cautious.

Jackson suffered a quadriceps injury against Dallas on Oct. 19 and reinjured it two weeks later when he came back to play Arizona. After the Arizona game, Haslett said Jackson would have to go through a full week of practice before he could return to the field.

Jackson worked out for the coaching staff on Saturday and Monday and was then cleared to return to practice.

His practice was limited Wednesday but on Thursday he got more repetitions, although he is still officially listed as having limited participation on the team's injury report.

"I had two good days of practice and no major setbacks," Jackson said Thursday. "The leg is a little sore but I was able to give Coach Haslett what he wanted to see, so I guess those are positive things and things are going in the right direction."

While Jackson seems optimistic about returning against the Dolphins, Haslett hesitated about Jackson's status.

"As the practice wore on I thought it was better," Haslett said. "But we'll talk to the coaches (Thursday) night and Steven and see how he is and make sure he's 100 percent. He still has to put it in the ground and go, but I thought he got better as the practice wore on."

Even if Jackson is able to return, it's unclear how much work he'll get. Jackson hasn't taken a hit since the Nov. 2 game against Arizona and he says a big part of the battle is being mentally prepared.

"That's the next thing," Jackson said. "Although I'm practicing, I still want to run through some arm tackles, drag some guys around, but I think all that will come in the weeks to come ... As the weeks go by, the confidence will come and the doubt in my mind will leave as well."

With five games left to play, Jackson is 475 yards short of his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season. That would tie him with Eric Dickerson for most consecutive seasons with 1,000 yards in team history.

For that reason and more, Jackson is eager to return to the backfield for his 2-9 team.

"I'm very anxious to get out there," Jackson said. "It's been a long four weeks and it's been a long, long season, so to be able to finish strong that would be ideal. And hopefully get some more wins in the win column."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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