Jackson has no time for pain

St. Louis running back Steven Jackson doesn’t like to talk about the broken finger on his left hand.

But his teammates and coaches are more than happy to discuss the injury and Jackson’s uncanny ability to play through it.

The Rams’ all-time leading rusher has played the past two games with one good hand. He amassed 148 all-purpose yards in St. Louis’ 23-20 overtime loss to San Francisco in Week 10 and has hardly missed a beat since having two pins surgically placed in the ring finger Oct. 25.

“What he’s doing is so amazing,” rookie tackle Rodger Saffold said. “It just makes us all want to block that much harder. No matter what happens to him — he keeps on running. That’s the kind of leader you need.”

Jackson, an Eldorado High School football product and the 24th pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, broke the finger early in St. Louis’ 18-17 loss to Tampa Bay on Oct. 24. He thought it was just dislocated and continued to play. But X-rays after the game showed the break, and he had a 20-minute surgical procedure the next day and never looked back.

“He didn’t think it was a big deal; he just kept right on playing,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “He’s a warrior.”

Jackson, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, wears a soft cast on the hand during games and plans on leaving the pins in place until the end of the season.

“The pins are adding the support that is allowing me to catch the ball and do some of the things that I’m doing on the field,” Jackson said. “The bone is healing well — had another X-ray this week, and all looks good.”

Jackson, 27, said the injury has not hampered his performance, and the numbers seem to agree. He recently became the Rams’ all-time rushing leader with 7,464 yards. He passed Eric Dickerson with a 110-yard effort against Tampa Bay.

■ SEAHAWKS — Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is ready to play against defending champion New Orleans despite two cracked bones in his left wrist.

Even if he couldn’t tie his shoes earlier this week.

Hasselbeck solicited help from third-string quarterback J.P. Losman to lace up his cleats before practice Wednesday.

Hasselbeck was wearing a bulky brace on his injured left wrist before practice but has a smaller setup that he uses during practice.

“The setup that I’m going to be playing with, I think I’ll be OK. Honestly, I’m OK,” Hasselbeck said. “It’s really not an issue. We didn’t do snaps yesterday, and I think we didn’t do some handoffs yesterday, and that was it.

“I’m really not in that much pain at all. I actually feel like I dodged a bullet. I’m not concerned at all.”

Hasselbeck had one of his best passing performances of the past several years in Week 10, throwing for 333 yards and a touchdown as the Seahawks beat Arizona 36-18 to regain first place in the dismal NFC West.

■ SAINTS — Running back Pierre Thomas said he could return to the field “sooner than people think.”

Thomas suited up for practice again this week after spending most of the past seven weeks in the training room because of a severe left ankle sprain.

While Thomas has been doing individual agility work, he is not taking part in 11-on-11 drills, so he is officially listed as not practicing on the injury report.

Thomas was the Saints’ leading rusher last season. He injured his ankle in Week 3 against Atlanta.

Thomas is not expected to play Sunday when New Orleans hosts Seattle.

■ TEXANS — Quarterback Matt Schaub returned to the team after being hospitalized because of an injury to the bursa sac in his right knee.

Schaub practiced, and coach Gary Kubiak said he expects his No. 1 quarterback to start when the Texans visit the New York Jets on Sunday.

Kubiak said Schaub took about half the first-team snaps. The only way Schaub will not start is if he has a setback before the game.

■ PATRIOTS — Quarterback Tom Brady practiced on a limited basis after missing Wednesday’s session because of a foot injury.

Last week, Brady skipped Wednesday’s practice, then was limited the next two days before playing an outstanding game in New England’s 39-26 win over Pittsburgh in Week 10.

The Patriots play at home Sunday against Indianapolis.

■ PANTHERS — Brian St. Pierre, who has thrown five passes in eight NFL seasons, will start at quarterback for Carolina against Baltimore on Sunday.

Coach John Fox picked the 30-year-old St. Pierre over rookie Tony Pike.

Rookie Jimmy Clausen missed practice again because of a concussion sustained against Tampa Bay in Week 10. Matt Moore was lost to a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 9.

■ COLTS — Wide receiver Austin Collie doesn’t want to talk about the violent hit that left him with a concussion. He just wants to get healthy enough to play.

In a written statement issued through a team spokesman, Collie thanked fans for their thoughts and prayers and acknowledged he is feeling better.

“I understand everyone’s concern, but I prefer not to discuss the specifics of the play in Philadelphia. I hope that can be respected,” he said. “It was a football play. And that’s part of football. Now I want to focus my efforts on continuing the gradual process of getting back on the field and helping our team.”

Collie has not spoken with reporters since the frightening scene Nov. 7.

■ REDSKINS — Washington could be without half its starting defensive backfield when it faces Randy Moss and Tennessee on Sunday.

Cornerback Carlos Rogers said his right hamstring is still sore after he hurt it Monday in Washington’s 59-28 loss to Philadelphia. Safety LaRon Landry is fighting a sore Achilles’ tendon that has limited him in practice for several weeks.

■ GIANTS — Left tackle Shawn Andrews missed his second straight practice, and his status for New York’s game Sunday against his former Philadelphia teammates is uncertain.

Coach Tom Coughlin said Andrews would be listed as day to day, though he hopes the two-time Pro Bowl selection who missed the majority of the past two seasons because of back problems will improve with rest.

■ JETS — Backup cornerback Dwight Lowery was ruled out for New York’s game Sunday against Houston because of a concussion.

Lowery was injured in the Jets’ 26-20 overtime victory at Cleveland in Week 10, and coach Rex Ryan said Lowery has “a little ways to go there.”

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery did not practice for the second straight day after suffering a slight tear to his left groin against the Browns.

■ BROWNS — Linebacker Marcus Benard said stress caused him to faint last week in Cleveland’s locker room before practice.

Benard, who briefly was hospitalized and underwent tests, spoke for the first time since he passed out Nov. 11 as he was sitting in front of his cubicle. Benard said he never lost consciousness and that doctors have ruled out any heart problems or serious medical condition.

Benard said the fainting spell could have been brought on by the impending birth of his son, who was delivered Monday. Benard played in the Browns’ Week 10 loss to the New York Jets, recording one sack.

■ BILLS — Rookie running back C.J. Spiller apologized for using a derogatory term toward gays that he posted on his Twitter account.

Spiller used the term Wednesday while exchanging tweets with Ricky Sapp, his former Clemson teammate and a Philadelphia Eagles defensive end. The original tweet has been deleted.

Spiller said he hasn’t heard from the league regarding the issue, and he has apologized to coach Chan Gailey and general manager Buddy Nix.

“Me and Ricky are best friends, and we always joke around on there, but I shouldn’t have said what I said,” Spiller said. “If anybody knew how me and Ricky play around on Twitter, pretty much knows that we were just joking and didn’t mean any harm. I apologize for the situation.”

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