Rams Jackson practices on Wednesday; expected to play Sunday

ST. LOUIS -- The struggling Rams could get a boost from the return of Steven Jackson after the running back practiced Wednesday.

Coach Scott Linehan said that unless he suffers a setback during the week, Jackson will be on the field when the winless Rams host Cleveland (3-3) on Sunday.

Jackson expects to be back without limitations after missing four games with a partially torn groin.

"The groin is something, it feels good one day and the next day you may have a little tweak to it," Jackson said. "As long as things are going good I want to stay out there."

His return can only help. The Rams (0-7) are scoring 11.3 points per game, worst in the NFL, and are 30th with 274.6 total yards per game. St. Louis scored seven points or fewer in three of the four games without Jackson.

Rookie Brian Leonard has had the bulk of work at running back in Jackson's absence. But he hasn't lived up to the numbers Jackson put up last season, when he led the NFL with 2,334 combined rushing and receiving yards.

"When I first came here I knew the offense was built around number 39," tight end Randy McMichael said. "And when that big part of your offense is gone, it takes its toll. I'm just excited to be with him."

Quarterback Marc Bulger said Jackson's presence changes the way defenses approach the Rams.

"When you're a playmaker like him, he can bring linebackers up with play-action so it will help the pass game," Bulger said. "Any play he touches the ball we can take it all the way, and I think that's something we've been missing."

Whether Jackson will get much help from the offensive line remains unclear. The line, already hurt by a series of injuries, had another setback Tuesday when guard Claude Terrell was cut after being charged with assaulting his wife in Houston.

Against the Browns, Milford Brown will move from right tackle to left guard. Brandon Gorin will play at right tackle. Gorin wasn't even signed until Orlando Pace was hurt.

It will be the sixth combination of linemen in eight games for St. Louis.

"It's not the greatest scenario with moving these guys around and having different lineups, but we really have no choice -- we're trying to get the best five out there," Linehan said.

The Rams are also expected to have wide receiver Drew Bennett (hamstring) back Sunday. He was inactive in last week's 33-6 loss in Seattle. Bulger, still nursing two broken ribs from Week 2 against San Francisco, rated his own health as an 8 on a scale of 10.

The Rams will be without defensive end Leonard Little, who has a torn ligament in his left big toe and may need surgery. Also out is kick returner Dante Hall with a high left ankle sprain, and center Brett Romberg is out because he sprained his right ankle against the Seahawks.

To fill the roster spot left vacant by Terrell's release, the Rams signed Rob Petitti. Petitti, 6-6 and 327 pounds, started all 16 games for Dallas in 2005 and was with the Saints in 2006.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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