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2011 Pro Bowl: Steven Jackson Finally Has Running Back Depth

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.

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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.)

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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.