St. Louis running back Steven Jackson, who had surgery in April to repair a herniated disc in his back, was nearly a full participant on Saturday as the Rams went through their first full-squad practice of training camp.
On the first snap of 11-on-11 "team" drills, he took a handoff from quarterback A.J. Feeley and burst around left end for a nice gain.
"We don't want to jump out there too quick and have him set back," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "But I was encouraged."
Jackson was injured November 22 against Arizona. He was held out of practice for the rest of the season, but he still managed to play in five of the last six games for the 1-15 Rams.
"The last five, six weeks of the season was pretty painful," Jackson acknowledged. "But being able to fight through that pain and still be somewhat productive, I think I proved a lot to myself."
Jackson finished with 1,416 rushing yards, the second-highest total of his six NFL seasons. He also caught 51 passes for 322 yards and was named to his second Pro Bowl.
Because he missed all the spring drills while rehabbing, Jackson hadn't stepped onto a football field since the season finale vs. San Francisco on January 3. He weathered Saturday's practice without problems.
"I felt good," Jackson said. "I've been working really, really hard with my trainer all offseason to make sure that when today came, I'd be ready to practice and be able to pretty much participate in everything."
His back, he reported, "feels good. Everything is up, everything is going good."
Jackson's performance in 2009 was remarkable considering he wasn't at full strength and had little in the way of a supporting cast. It's a good sign that he's fully healthy as camp begins. At some point in the near future, his workload will catch up to him, but we don't think it will happen in 2010. Jackson is our number six back in both our regular and PPR ratings.