Jackson strained his quadriceps on his very first carry of the 2011 regular season. He carried the ball only 24 times during preseason. He did not practice every day during training camp. And he did not attend player-organized offseason workouts, which were best suited for quarterbacks and receivers.
Yet, here Jackson is, entering Week 2 with an injury threatening to keep him out of the lineup against the New York Giants on Monday night. He started 16 games last season and 15 in 2009 despite incurring injuries ranging from a broken finger to a herniated disc that required surgery.
The question is whether Jackson has suffered merely a freak injury, or if straining his quadriceps counts as more evidence the Rams' all-time rushing leader is winding down at age 28. His replacement Sunday, 29-year-old Cadillac Williams, functioned well despite having suffered knee injuries far more serious than anything Jackson has experienced.
I'll pass along Jackson's thoughts on durability, gathered during my visit to Rams training camp last month:
"Some of those freak accidents are just that -- freakish. Some of the injuries, muscles, hamstrings and groins, you definitely think about the wear and tear and the amount of carries over the years. Those things kind of take a toll on the body. Of course, with everyone, your body is eventually going to give way. But for the most part, I think I’ve shown my toughness and my willingness to play through injury that when I tell them something is bothering me, they understand that we should take a look at it."
That is the case this week. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, speaking to reporters covering the Giants, said Jackson "knows his body better than anybody else" and the team trusts Jackson to keep his body right. That was a theme Jackson expanded upon at camp:
"I invest in my body. I mean, I spend a lot of money on myself, and I’m not just talking massages. I’m talking acupuncture, [hyperbaric] chamber stuff, whirlpools. I’m full bore about the body and dieting and muscles. All the things outside the norm of football, I invest my time and money in. As much as I ask of myself on the football field, as much as we ask of ourselves on the football field, it’s only right to give yourself the best edge."
A three-part documentary produced last season sheds more light on how Jackson tries to keep his body functioning.