St. Louis Rams fans and fantasy football general managers will want to read Stephania Bell's detailed report on running back Steven Jackson.
Bell is ESPN's injury expert, a physical therapist, board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. We watched Rams practices together last week and I learned there's much more to watch than what the typical observer might see. She was paying close attention to everything from players' posture while standing on the sideline to the braces they were wearing to the subtle ways they might have been favoring a particular body part.
I'll pass along a snippet of her thoughts on Jackson:
For those who are wondering what visible effects these adjustments might be having on Jackson, there is one thing I can attest to after seeing him at the Ram's training camp: the man is in amazing shape. Jackson has always been a physical presence as a running back, standing 6'2" and weighing over 240 pounds. In particular he's been very strong in his lower half, making him better able to use his hips and legs to drive through would-be tacklers and drag them along for extra yards. The difference now is in his upper body mass. While Jackson has always maintained excellent physical conditioning, he now appears equally intimidating up top as he always has through his legs. The increased strength through his arms and torso is evident and is just as likely to help him dish out punishment as absorb it.
Jackson is one of the most physically impressive players. His height is unusual for a running back, for starters, and he's put together in a way that qualifies him for "beast" status -- even in a league filled with extraordinary athletes.