St. Louis linebacker James Laurinaitis praises running back Steven Jackson

Published December 20, 2012

| Associated Press

St. Louis linebacker James Laurinaitis thinks it's about time Rams running back Steven Jackson got more recognition for his long, productive career.

On Sunday, Jackson became the 27th player in NFL history to rush for 10,000 yards when he ran for 73 yards in a 36-22 loss to Minnesota.

Laurinaitis, who leads the Rams (6-7-1) with 153 tackles, believes Jackson hasn't gotten enough credit for reaching that milestone.

"I think it's been a disservice all week to (the) national media that people haven't been talking about his 10,000th," Laurinaitis said Thursday. "The way he handles himself as a pro is unbelievable. Especially in this day and age. Running backs have a short life. It's a passing league now. And we've got somebody on our squad that has done this impressively for a long time.

It's an honor to be his teammate."

Jackson, the former Oregon State star in his ninth NFL season, is closing in on another milestone. He needs 91 yards over the last two games to hit the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth season in a row. He would be the sixth player in NFL history to reach that plateau joining Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas, and LaDainian Tomlinson. Four of the five are in the Hall Of Fame. Tomlinson is likely headed there.

Laurinaitis has chased running backs like Jackson his entire career. And he has grown to appreciate Jackson's skills.

"It's unbelievable to be able to say you played with one of the guys who has reached this feat," Laurinaitis said.

Jackson takes his honors in stride, although feels the potential string of eight successive years of at least 1,000-yards is important.

"It means that I've been consistent over time and durable," Jackson said. "It's hard to do in this league."

Jackson, the Rams' first round pick in 2004, has spent his entire career in St. Louis.

"I never thought about eight years, but I thought year-in year-out as long as I was a starter, I wanted to be a 1,000-yard rusher," he said. "I didn't realize that so few have accomplished what I have possible."

Jackson has 33 100-yard rushing games in his career, second in team history behind Eric Dickerson with 38.

The Las Vegas native has rushed for 10,002 yards — the most among active backs. Frank Gore of San Francisco is second with 8,743.

"His career has been remarkable," St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford said.

Laurinaitis says that Jackson rarely talks about his accomplishments. For now, Jackson remains focused on Sunday's game at Tampa. The Rams, who end the regular season at Seattle, could finish with a winning record for the first time in Jackson's career.

"I haven't done it yet so it would mean a lot to me," Jackson said.

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