ST. LOUIS — Rams running back Steven Jackson is on the verge of a milestone.
With 34 more yards rushing, Jackson will become the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in seven or more consecutive seasons. Only Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas, Eric Dickerson and LaDainian Tomlinson have accomplished the feat.
Jackson is well aware of that elite club, and identified with Thomas as a kid because both had a single bar on the helmet.
“How much do I know about them? I have their trading cards,” said Jackson, a former Eldorado High School star.
If he reaches the 1,000-yard mark Saturday at Pittsburgh, he probably won’t be taking handoffs from Sam Bradford.
Bradford hasn’t practiced the last two weeks and is likely to miss his second straight game and fourth overall with a high left ankle sprain, leaving newcomer Kellen Clemens a virtual lock to start.
“I played with a herniated disk for six games,” Jackson said of a 2009 injury that required surgery. “I don’t think I’m the right guy to ask about medical opinions on when to pull yourself out.”
Bradford on Tuesday reiterated his desire to play instead of finishing the season on injured reserve. Jackson missed the Rams’ loss to the New York Giants in Week 2, so he can relate to what the quarterback is going through.
“You feel helpless when you’re watching the team and you can’t play,” he said. “You don’t feel a part of the team on that particular day, but I’m not the best person to ask for advice on when to play.”
Jackson has rushed for 1,000 yards in every season except his rookie year in 2004 when he shared carries with Marshall Faulk. He’s the franchise’s career rushing leader (8,914 yards).
“It just means I’ve been able to play at high performance regardless of injury, record or whatever,” Jackson said. “Just being someone that’s consistent. I kind of lay my hat on it.”
Jackson’s rookie year was also the only time he’s reached the playoffs, so he’s had to block out a lot of disappointment. The Rams (2-12) are set to pick near the top of the draft for the fourth time in five years and have the NFL’s lowest-scoring team, scrounging for points even before three linemen went on injured reserve and Bradford got hurt.
Yards have been harder to come by lately for Jackson. After three straight 100-yard games in the middle of the season, he’s totaled 259 yards with a 3.2-yard average over the last five games.
He had only 19 yards on 10 carries at San Francisco in Week 13 as the Rams gave up on the run early in a 26-0 loss and 42 yards with a 2.8-yard average in Week 11 at home against Seattle.
“Nah, no frustration,” Jackson said. “The only thing that’s frustrating is not winning.”