Janoris Jenkins has been the most talked about member of the St. Louis Rams' rookie class through the first week of training camp. At Saturday's scrimmage, running back Isaiah Pead lowered his shoulder and hammered Jenkins out of the collective conscious while breaking a run outside.
The sound of the hit turned heads in the stands and on the field. Fans were not the only ones to take notice of Pead, who has commanded the attention of his teammates in practice all week. Steven Jackson, who knows a thing or two about being an NFL running back, sang the praises of his backup.
"Isaiah has looked really impressive this camp," Jackson said. "Isaiah is someone that is very shifty. He has a good understanding of the game of football. From my understanding he played in a spread offense, so he definitely brings a dynamic to us so we can use him and spread out the defense in ways so we can have a match up problem, actually in our favor though."
For years the Rams tried to find help for Jackson on margins, counting on late-round picks and undrafted free agents before signing a pair of feckless veterans for the job in 2011. The new administration was less inclined to take such risks, using the 50th pick in the draft, a second rounder, to select the Cincinnati product.
Running backs picked that high in the draft are virtually guaranteed playing time in their first season, and Pead is on track to play a big role in the Rams offense.
"We've been installing this now for some months," Jackson said of the offensive progress. "We started in the spring and I think a lot of it has carried over and the guys are clicking, especially within the 1s. The blocking schemes are being able to...everyone's been on the same page and looking really good on the run game."
Pead missed time in the spring because of the NFL's arcane rule that will not allow rookies to report until their class has graduated. There was some concern at the time that it would leave him on the wrong side of the learning curve when it came to Brian Schottenheimer's offense. Once he was finally eligible to return, Pead put in extra time to get caught up on playbook.
Head coach Jeff Fisher complemented Pead following Saturday's scrimmage.
"Obviously, he's shown some really good things during the first week not only as far as his run skills but pass protection, catching the ball and finishing and doing those kinds of things," Fisher said.
Pead still has plenty of work of to do.
"He's still got a lot to learn," the head coach said. "He gets lost every once in a while, but he's going to get a lot of work in the preseason. It will be fun to evaluate not only him but most of the younger players."