With the St. Louis Rams now two weeks away from beginning OTAs, the identity of RB Steven Jackson’s backup remains unknown. In reality, the Rams need more than just a backup, or a change of pace, as some have suggested, for what Jackson can do.
While the surgery Jackson had is considered “minor” when compared to other more serious back issues, any back surgery can be potentially serious.
Generally, the rehab process after the procedure Jackson had is about eight weeks. Dr. Rick Lehman said the problem can reoccur in about 20 percent of cases involving football players, especially a running back like Jackson that takes a lot of hits.
The Rams will likely accelerate their attempts to add another running back. There is still interest in former Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook, who has also has injury concerns, including two concussions he suffered last season. Other free agents available include RB Justin Fargas, RB Jamal Lewis and RB Ladell Betts, but both Lewis and Betts ended the 2009 season on injured reserve, while Fargas has also had knee problems. Buffalo Bills RB Marshawn Lynch has been floated, but he gained just 450 yards last season, and has had off-field incidents.
Monitoring Jackson's progress will be at the top of 'fantasy things to do' lists this summer, especially when considering keepers. Despite not a lot wins, Jackson has still managed to put up very solid fantasy numbers - when he plays. When he doesn't play, his backup has been ineffective for the most part.
Jamal Lewis was released by the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday, but he hasn't given up hope of playing in the NFL.
The Browns let Lewis go with one year remaining on his contract. His 2009 season ended Dec. 2 when he went on injured reserve with post-concussion symptoms, but he doesn't want his career to stop that way.
First, doctors must clear Lewis to return to the field.
"If Jamal wants to play and he's cleared to play, I think he's got a lot of football he can bring to the table to help an organization," said Mitch Frankel, Lewis' agent. "He can be a significant contributor to the right organization. Jerome Bettis and some other guys at the end of their careers took on a different role, and I think Jamal can do that."
Lewis said after the Browns' season finale that he was still suffering from headaches and blurred vision as a result of the concussion, which he sustained during the opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Frankel said he wasn't sure if Lewis, 30, was still having the problems, and the running back didn't address them in a prepared statement, although he did thank Browns fans and owner Randy Lerner for his time in Cleveland.
"I plan to evaluate my future and have not made a final determination on whether I will be playing football next season," Lewis said.
Jerome Harrison posted his third consecutive 100-yard game during Sunday's 23-17 victory over the Jaguars, rushing for 127 of the Browns' 214 yards on 33 carries, including a sensational six-yard touchdown blast on fourth and 1 that increased the lead to 20-3 in the third quarter.
It marked the first time a Browns back has had three straight 100-yard games since Lee Suggs in 2004. But these weren't just any old 100-yard games. They were record-smashing, streak-producing and maybe even coach-saving performances, including the team-record 286 vs. Kansas City and the 148 vs. the Raiders.
Harrison credited his blockers with his scintillating three weeks, and the fact he's had Jamal Lewis and Jim Brown as mentors.
"Jamal took me under his wing since the first day he got here," said Harrison. "I don't know too many running backs that can say 'I had Jamal Lewis and Jim Brown.' It's special. I'm truly lucky and blessed to have those two in my corner."
He can only hope new team president Mike Holmgren appreciates what he can do.
"I love being in Cleveland and I'd love to be back," he said. "I love the fans, I love the people, I'd love to be here."