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Jackson excited about season for Rams

Jackson excited about season for Rams

September 9th, 2011 in News

Steven Jackson is expecting a big year from the Rams this season.

Photo by The Associated Press /News Tribune.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson has six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and this still might be the best team he's played for headed into Sunday's season opener at home against the Eagles.

The Rams' all-time leading rusher and two-time Pro Bowler is enthusiastic about what the new campaign may bring for the Rams, who finished 7-9 last year and missed out on winning the NFC West in the final game of the season.

"It's a very exciting week. Each and every year, you only get one chance for a season opener and I'm very grateful we get to start off at home," Jackson said Thursday after practice. "We want to start the season off right."

Quarterback Sam Bradford agreed.

"I think that if we go out and 11 guys execute and do their jobs then we have the potential to be a very good offense this year," Bradford said. "I think it could turn into a special year."

St. Louis swapped picks with Denver and Cincinnati to draft Jackson 24th overall in 2004. In his rookie season, the Rams went 8-8 and qualified for the playoffs as a wild-card team.

He became a full-time starter in 2005, taking over for an aging Marshall Faulk.

The Rams have not had a winning season in that span. After 6-10 and 8-8 seasons, St. Louis plummeted. The nadir came two years ago when the Rams bottomed out at 1-15 to finish 6-42 from 2007-09.

Starting this season off with a victory over NFC power Philadelphia would be a positive step for the Rams, who have Bradford heading into his second year at quarterback.

"We draw a tough opponent in Philadelphia. They're one of the elite teams in the National Football League," Jackson said. "So, it's definitely going to be a sign to see where we're at as a young team and as a franchise coming back."

With no official offseason workouts and a shorter training camp because of the lockout, Jackson said he feels fresh. He played sparingly in the preseason.

"I feel great," Jackson said. "We slowly, gradually worked me in there through the preseason. Everything I feel I need to be at a standpoint to have a good run and to make an impact on this season, I feel that I'm there."

That's good news for the offense that continues to bring Bradford along.

New Rams guard Harvey Dahl said he wants to extend Jackson's 1,000-yard seasons streak, currently the longest in the league.

"I think we're ready to go," Dahl said. "I've been around for a while and I think we're all on the same page and we're ready to go. It's going to be awesome for us to make something happen for Steven. He can make anything happen when he's on the field."

At 28, Jackson is still one of the elder statesmen on the Rams. There are just 10 players over 30 on the roster.

Jackson was voted one of three team captains along with Josh Brown and James Hall for the season. He takes the position seriously.

"It's an honor to be voted a captain of this team," Jackson said. "I wear it with pride."

His routine for the first game will be no different.

"I try to not anything special for it," Jackson said. "I want to get my body and mind in flow whether it's Week 8 or Week 16 or Week 1. It's always the same. I hate being at the stadium early. I hate being a caged lion, you know.

"I actually want to get there and just hit the field. Let's go. Those two hours we get there for the NFL rules, is dreadful for me. I hate it."

Notes: Coach Steve Spagnuolo announced the game-day captains for Sunday will be WR Brandon Gibson, WR Danny Amendola and S Quintin Mikell. All are former Eagles. ... TE Mike Hoomanawanui (calf) was the only Ram who did not practice. ... St. Louis said Sunday's game is a sellout.