Fast timeline for Jackson upon return

August, 21, 2008
8/21/08
2:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Steven Jackson's return to practice Thursday gives the Rams a needed boost coming out of two-a-day practices and two less-than-stellar exhibition performances.

The Rams have been dragging offensively. Dante' Hall is their third receiver. Rookie receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton have struggled with injuries. Antonio Pittman and Brian Leonard were carrying the rushing load while Jackson was away. Meanwhile, the team lost a couple of backup offensive linemen for the season. The overall feel wasn't good.

Jackson's return changes the feel for St. Louis. I had a hard time moving the Rams out of the fourth spot in the NFC West without Jackson. Now it's time to reassess how the offense functions with its best player in the lineup. Jackson will not play in the next exhibition game, but the Rams appear eager to work him back into the offense quickly.

Guard Richie Incognito said the line has been able to practice as usual without Jackson, but that Jackson would benefit from getting a better feel for the new line. Free-agent addition Jacob Bell is taking over at left guard. Nick Leckey is working at center while Brett Romberg recovers from a hand injury (Leckey is a candidate to start). Tight end Anthony Becht, though injured recently, was signed to help in the run game. A good ground game features lots of moving parts working well together, and that takes time to develop.

Jackson hasn't practiced in pads since Al Saunders arrived as offensive coordinator. He is rejoining the team in time to get a feel for the offense and his linemates before diving into the regular-season opener at Philadelphia, a tough draw to be sure.

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