Excitement and expectations are running high right now for the St. Louis Rams. I don't know if you noticed the fan confidence poll, but it sits at 79 for the week. Maybe it's just the end of summer's malaise, maybe it's all the hope and renewal cliches usually used to make baseball's spring training more exciting. At Turf Show Times, the soaring hopes of August make it a great time for our annual fan projections, in which we take Rams players and try to surmise what kind of stats they'll put up for the season ahead.
Today, we're jumping right in with the biggest name for the Rams offense: Steven Jackson.
Yes, Steven Jackson is still the Rams premier offensive skill player. With apologies to Sam Bradford, the rookie QB still has a lot to prove. Jackson established himself with six seasons of solid play, and five consecutive seasons of 1,000 yards or more.
Predicting Jackson's numbers this year figures to be a little bit of a wild card. The coaching staff has so far limited Jackson's workload in camp, allowing him to fully heal from surgery to fix a herniated disc in his back earlier this summer. He might not play in this week's preseason opener, but the team expects SJ39 to be ready to roll when the season starts. Lots of fans and pundits still question Jackson's ability to stay healthy and feel that his stats could take a hit this season because of that.
There are a few other factors that could impact Jackson's numbers for 2010:
- The offensive game plan - With a more competent QB the passing game could be more of a factor this season. That could take away carrier for Jackson, but also bump up his receiving totals. Even in last year's wash of a season, Jackson had 51 receptions, the second highest total of his career.
- The offensive line - Jackson's been able to get it done with some bad blocking in front of him. Will this year's group be any better? Any healthier?
- The backup RB situation - The Rams inability to find a more reliable threat to backup Jackson has been a sore point for some. And if Jackson does miss time with injury, it could be a real problem. However, if Jackson's healthy, why on earth would the Rams want to take the ball out of his hands any more than they have to. Still, a late addition like Brian Westbrook could cut into Jackson's snaps, for better or worse.