Steven Jackson insists he prefers to be the only running back in the St. Louis Rams' backfield to be pounded 30 times a game, but if his eyes say no, don't get me a platoon back, his ankles, knees, back, neck, and even fingers are increasingly saying yes, that would probably be a good idea. Enter the 2011 Pro Bowl: Our one chance a year to see how Steven Jackson would run if the Running Back Grim Reaper weren't chasing him so quickly. This year he'll be the change-of-pace back, playing along with Adrian Peterson behind Michael Turner.â†µ
Pro Bowl starter Turner was the only running back in the NFL to rush more times from scrimmage than Jackson—334, to Jackson's piddling 330—but he's a non-factor in the Falcons' passing game, while Jackson has caught 51 and 46 passes over the last two seasons. (Turner, a year older than Jackson, has also spent just three full seasons as a team's feature back.)
Fellow reserve Adrian Peterson's rushes have wisely been cut back from their 2008 peak of 363; since then he's rushed about three fewer times a game, supplemented by Chester Taylor in 2009 and Toby Gerhart in 2010. The last time the Rams had a running back not named Steven Jackson take 81 carries, as Gerhart did in 2010, Jackson missed four games to injury. The last time the Rams had a real change-of-pace back—well, it was Steven Jackson, and he was about to take Marshall Faulk's job.