Rams RB Jackson dodges bullet in big win

Posted Sept. 27, 2010 @ 6:47 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

The Rams feared the worst Sunday when featured RB Steven Jackson went down late in the second quarter with a groin injury in the team's 30-16 victory over the Redskins. But they were breathing a lot easier Monday after Jackson, who did not return after the injury, was diagnosed with no more than a strain that will make him "day to day" in advance of the team's next game Sunday at home against Seattle.

While Jackson is far from a lock for the Seahawks game, the Rams are feeling a lot more confident in their ability to get by without him if need be after backups Kenneth Darby and undrafted rookie Keith Toston effectively picked up the slack Sunday in his absence.

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Fantasy football enthusiasts better not jump to any conclusions about the availability of Jackson, who had a vintage 42-yard TD romp on the Rams' opening drive Sunday with a great block from C Jason Brown.

"I don't want to say one way or the other because you've really got to leave it up to the player in this situation," said Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo when asked if he was optimistic about Jackson being able to suit up Sunday. "You're talking about a running back with a groin so … but Steven's a warrior.  You almost have to pull him back because he'll want to go."

If he can't go, it appears Darby, whose 12-yard TD run provided the go-ahead score against Washington, and Toston can cover for Jackson, at least in the short-term. That the reserve duo was able to churn out 73 rushing yards in the second half against the Redskins' eighth-ranked run defense would appear to bode well for the future, provided Jackson can shake off his groin injury in short order.

After all is said and done, the Rams have to be feeling pretty good about themselves after spinning their wheels the first two weeks of the season with losses against Arizona and Oakland that could just as easily have been victories. The difference against Washington was a strong second-half performance, which was disturbingly lacking the previous two weeks when the team appeared to be greatly outcoached.

But Steve Spagnuolo and his staff clearly upstaged Mike Shanahan Sunday with an aggressive game plan on both sides of the ball that paid off handsomely. The Rams twice converted fourth downs to keep scoring drives alive, including one first-quarter conversion that proceeded Jackson's first TD of the season.

After the game, Jackson went as far as to say his injury might have been a blessing in disguise because now other teams know the Rams' offense can score without him.

"He's a deeper thinker than I am, because I'd rather just have him out there," Spagnuolo said of Jackson's remark before breaking out laughing. "But point well taken."

Here's another point worth taking into account: Don't laugh, but with just one very badly needed victory after 10 consecutive losses dating back to last season, the Rams are suddenly a contender in the NFC West.