ST. LOUIS (AP) -Despite a 27-day holdout during training camp, running back Steven Jackson says he's ready to go when the St. Louis Rams open the season in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Jackson ended up getting a six-year, $44-million contract.
To make up for the missed time, Rams coach Scott Linehan put Jackson in what he termed a ``semi-boot camp'' to get him ready for the regular season. The sessions were intense.
``I had long, 12-hour days,'' said Jackson, who spoke at Rams Park on Thursday for the first time since his news conference when he signed his contract on Aug. 21. ``I practiced with the team, and before and after every practice, I did some extra conditioning. I went through extra plays with coaches.''
Jackson said the extra duty included a center and a quarterback. A huddle was simulated so Jackson could hear the play that was called by a coach. Then Jackson would run the play.
Besides getting in shape by running sprints down the field, Jackson had to learn the new offense installed by offensive coordinator Al Saunders.
``It was a very condensed training camp,'' Jackson laughed. ``I feel like I'm there. I'm not messing up on my assignments.''
Jackson did not play in either of the two preseason games after he signed his contract. However, he said that is not necessarily a bad thing.
``My legs feel fresh under me,'' Jackson said.
So, what does Jackson expect to do against the Eagles?
``I'm ready,'' he said.
He said he feels he's in shape to carry a full load of play, but wasn't sure how much playing time he would have.
``I know Brian Leonard and Antonio Pittman, those guys run really hard in preseason to put themselves into position to play.
``Whatever coach asks me to do, I'm willing. If I've got to split the carries between three guys, that's fine.''
A first-round pick in 2004, Jackson has put together three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons since replacing Marshall Faulk. Last season, he reached that mark despite missing four games with injuries.
The Rams finished 3-13 last season and the offense averaged 16 points.
``Don't expect us to be 3-13,'' defensive end Leonard Little said. ``I'll tell you that. We're not going to be 3-13 and have a horrible season.''
Having a healthy Jackson will go a long way in erasing the memories of last season, Little said.
``He's our workhorse,'' Little said about Jackson. ``He does everything we need him to do. He runs the ball and catches the ball. He makes people miss him. He's hard to bring down.''
Jackson said he is glad to be back and playing.
``I don't play for money. I play for the passion of it,'' Jackson said. ``I think that reflects in my play and how I motivate my teammates.''

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