ST. LOUIS (AP) — Steven Jackson got a welcome dose of reality last week.
The St. Louis running back spent his bye week at home with family and friends where he quickly learned that an 0-4 start to the NFL season is not the end of the world.
“It’s amazing when you see family members and your small children how some of the things that are stressing you out kind of seem to lay to the side a little bit,” he said. “You get to relax and be yourself again.”
Jackson and the rest of the Rams will return to the real world in a hurry: They play Sunday at Green Bay, which has looked like the class of the NFL in winning its first five games.
Jackson, who has rushed for 100-plus yards in each of the last two meetings with the Packers, is upbeat about his team’s chances against the Packers.
“I expect us to win,” Jackson said. “I feel healthy. I think I can shoulder the load that I’m used to shouldering.”
Jackson suffered a quadriceps injury on the first offensive play from scrimmage in a 31-13 season-opening loss to Philadelphia. He missed the following game and returned to the lineup on Sept. 25 in a 37-7 loss to Baltimore. He hasn’t really been at full strength, but the week of rest has helped.
“I feel great, I feel back to the point where I’m 100 percent,” he said. “I’m able to run, cut, spin and do all the things I was able to do before the injury.”
The Rams will need their workhorse to ease some of the pressure on quarterback Sam Bradford, too. Jackson has been impressive in practice this week, according to rookie tight end Lance Kendricks.
“He definitely looks like he’s healthy again,” Kendricks said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s going to do out there.”
First-year offensive co-coordinator Josh McDaniels said Jackson has regained that extra burst that was missing while he was slowed by the injury.
“He’s ready to go full steam ahead,” McDaniels said. “He’s run the ball well, he’s caught the ball well.”
Jackson became the Rams all-time leading rusher last season. So far this season, he has run for 124 yards on 23 carries and has caught four passes for 19 yards. The Rams will need more from him to bolster an offense ranked 31st, second to last, in the NFL.
Kendricks, who grew up in Milwaukee and went to Wisconsin, used to attend Packers games as a child and dreamed of eventually playing at Lambeau Field. He said he might even try a Lambeau leap if he scores a touchdown.
“I’ve got to find a spot full of Rams fans first,” said Kendricks, who has eight catches for 102 yards.
Notes: TE Mike Hoomanawanui returned to full practice on Thursday for the first time since suffering a concussion against Washington. “He’s into the contact phase,” Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. … Guard Jacob Bell (hamstring) also return to full participation. Defensive James Hall (back) is back at full strength.
Copyright Associated Press