“One of the concerns that you have often times about running backs as they get older, and this has been said many times, is that when you look at them later in their career, you look to see whether they’re getting tackled or they’re getting hit,” Rams new head coach Jeff Fisher said of Jackson in a conference call on Wednesday.
“There’s a difference. Steven Jackson is still getting tackled.”
One of the most physically gifted athletes in the league, Jackson (6-3, 230) has a rare blend of size and speed for the position. Lions defensive tackle
“Especially how big he is and how physically demanding his run style is,” said Suh. “He’s definitely a specimen and he brings it every single week and every season. You look at him last year, he dealt with some injuries and stuff and still had a tremendous year.
“It’s exciting to see a guy like that. He’s a good friend and I look forward to tackling him many, many times.”
Easier said than done.
Jackson rushed for 1,145 yards and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 9,093 yards. Since 2006, his third season in the league, Jackson has averaged 114.7 scrimmage yards per game (9,868 yards, 86 games), most in the NFL. Entering his ninth season, he's 907 yards shy of becoming the 27th player in league history to reach 10,000 yards.
The Lions faced him and the Rams back in 2010 in a 44-6 Lions victory. Despite the lopsided score, Jackson had 114 rushing yards in the game.
The rushing defense was a bit of a concern last year and Jackson poses a good Week 1 test.
The defense ranked 23rd last season against the run and had trouble containing the big plays in the run game. The Lions allowed six runs of 40-plus yards (second most in NFL behind the Rams who allowed seven) last season and 16 runs of 20-plus yards (fourth most).
“Our improvement needs to be in limiting long runs,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz admitted Thursday. “We were fine as far as the run game went except for the long runs when we saw that. There was way too many of those big chunks.
“We have to do a better job of plugging stuff up front. But more importantly tackling or being in the right spots in our secondary. That’s where those averages went way up in the run game.”
Having to face Jackson Week 1 is a good test run with the 49ers and their potent rushing attack up next in Week 2.