Haslett likely to make decision on Jackson today

Thursday, November 13, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Rams coach Jim Haslett said he'd probably decide today whether Steven Jackson would play this weekend, keeping the backfield in limbo for another day.

The return of the team's feature back from a thigh injury that has sidelined him two of the last three games would provide a nice lift for a sagging franchise that has lost three straight after a 2-0 start under Haslett. But Jackson was not running close to full speed while taking less than half of the practice snaps Wednesday.

So just like last week, the coach wants to make sure he's truly ready to go.

"We'll work him tomorrow and hopefully make a decision," Haslett said. "I know it's a lot better, but is it good enough? I don't know yet. He needs to go tomorrow, and he's got to kind of open it up and go."

The fill-ins last week were a collection of unproven players, with stand-in starter Antonio Pittman gaining 28 yards on 13 carries and Kenneth Darby fumbling twice in five touches, although one was nullified by a penalty. Jackson is scheduled to meet with media today.

"I don't want to say he's 100 percent or anything like that because only he's going to know," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "I think there's a difference between practice speed and game speed, so we'll keep our fingers crossed."

The Rams (2-7) committed five turnovers in the loss to the Jets, the third-most lopsided game in franchise history. Haslett gave players an ear-full during a team meeting Monday, but then reminded them to leave that game behind and begin focusing on this week's game at San Francisco (2-7).

"Coach Haslett was pretty upset with us, but he told us we have to move on," Bulger said. "He cusses a lot every meeting. It was nothing different."

While absorbing the criticism, rookie defensive end Chris Long appreciated that Haslett, a former NFL linebacker, also could empathize with the players.

"He might blister you for about 10 minutes, but he knows as well as we do that it's not productive to dwell on anything after that," Long said. "That's what he's been preaching today. We didn't just lose the Super Bowl, we lost an ugly game and we got our butts kicked."

Veteran defensive players said the whipping largely was self-inflicted.

"It wasn't nothing physical they did to us," defensive end Leonard Little said. "Hopefully, we get past all the mental stuff we did last week."

Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said once the defense got burned by a particular play, players seemed to be waiting for that play again while missing assignments on other plays they had handled during the practice week. He pines for a return to Weeks 5 and 6, when the defense held the Redskins to 17 points and the Cowboys to 14.

"We need to get our respect back," Tinoisamoa said.

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