Running back Jackson latest Rams starter to miss time with injury
ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson will miss at least one week with a partial tear of his left groin, an injury sustained in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 24-3 loss at Tampa Bay.
Rookie Brian Leonard, a second-round pick from Rutgers, will get his first start Sunday at Dallas. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson was hopeful Jackson would be out only one game.
"He's one of our best players, if not the best player," Olson said. "As we tell our players, anytime someone gets injured the rest of us have to pick up the slack.
"We'll find a way to spread the ball around."
The 0-3 Rams learned they lost Jackson a day after guard Mark Setterstrom was lost for the season with a torn left knee ligament and cartilage damage. Setterstrom is the second lineman the Rams have lost this season, after seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener.
The Rams were in conservative mode against the Buccaneers, intent on protecting quarterback Marc Bulger. Olson disclosed Monday that Bulger was playing with two broken ribs, an injury likely sustained in the opener when he was sacked six times.
Bulger also played Sunday wearing a sleeve to protect a bruised knee.
"We wanted to keep Marc clean and keep him healthy and limit the shots he was taking," Olson said. "Your margin for error is small when you play it that way."
Coach Scott Linehan said Jackson, who had 115 yards on 30 carries, was hurt making a cut. He said Jackson stayed in the game for a while after being hurt but said it was "noticeable" that Jackson was injured.
Last year, Jackson led the NFL with 2,334 yards rushing and receiving. He had been held to 118 yards rushing and four catches for 39 yards the first two weeks, enjoying his first productive day of the year before being hurt.
Leonard made his first four carries of the season on Sunday, gaining 21 yards, and had one reception for 6 yards. He has six catches for 41 yards on the year.
The Rams gave Leonard a lot of playing time in the preseason while conserving Jackson for the regular season. Leonard expanded his duties to fullback after the Rams released Madison Hedgecock before the opener.
"We think he'll be capable of taking over that role in Steven's absence, hopefully for just a game," Olson said.
Setterstrom is the latest loss to a banged-up offensive line. Along with Pace, guard Richie Incognito is still out with a high ankle sprain sustained in the preseason.
Linehan said he thought Incognito would be questionable again this week.
Setterstrom rose through the ranks after being taken in the seventh-round of the 2006 draft, the 242nd overall selection. He was inactive the first nine games before cracking the lineup due to injuries, starting the final six weeks.
Setterstrom was carted off after he was hurt blocking on Jeff Wilkins' 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Linehan said an MRI exam revealed torn cartilage along with the torn ligament.
"He's a young guy and should be able to bounce back from this next season," Linehan said. "We'll be looking at some replacement possibilities in the next 24 to 48 hours."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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