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Friday, September 26, 2008
Jackson's message powerful, nuanced

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jackson

Rams running back Steven Jackson wasn't popping off when he questioned Marc Bulger's benching during a radio show Thursday night.

That becomes clear in listening to the audio on the Rams' radio network. Jackson was quite thoughtful in his answers. His emotions did boil over when asked about whether benching Bulger was the right thing to do. But the broader tone was pretty restrained.

Jackson on the QB move: "You just rewarded this man with a new contract last year, millions of dollars, and you bench him. Then if things do not work out with Trent [Green], you go back. I don't like it at all. I think there's a lot more people that could take the blame for this. I don't think it's fair that one person takes the blame."

Jackson when asked what should be done: "You don't do anything. If anything, you ride out your quarterback, you ride out the star guy that you invested money in. Because that is why you invested money in him, to build the future with those guys. You replace the guys around him. Whatever you need to do. ... You don't put your general, the head guy of the football team, he is the staple center of this team, and you bench him with no excuse. It's not right."

I don't think Jackson intended to refer to Bulger as the arena where the Los Angeles Lakers play. He was referring to him as the staple of the roster, the center of the team's plans. More highlights below.

Jackson on whether Trent Green changes the dynamic: "If anything, I think it makes it more comfortable for [offensive coordinator] Al Saunders, having Trent and knowing him like the back of his hand. It will be really interesting to see how the calling of the plays comes out and how the game comes out to see if it's a really huge difference in play calling."

On the offense: "We have to get Torry Holt invovled. That is the biggest thing. If I'm Al Saunders right now, I'm in the office right now figuring how do we get No. 81 the ball?"

On the locker room: "The locker room is kind of on egg shells. It's unfortunate. We should be loose, we should be going out there playing football. But I think a lot of people right now are playing for their jobs. As far as fans listening, it's really hard to play for your jobs. We're not winning. Yes, it boils down to winning and losing in this business that we play in. But when you are playing not to lose your job, that is when you are not going to make plays."

On the organization: "The thing that I got most out of my holdout was that I have fully come to understand this business. It is a business, one. To have an unbelievable season like New England has had and for the Colts and all these franchises that we have seen that have been on top for a while, it starts from top to the bottom. And on Sundays, you see the finished product of what the organization has put together as a representation of that city. But for all these things to come together and happen, it takes a lot. It's from the scouting department, from the GMs, the coaching staff, the game plan, players executing, even having competition in the locker room to have Antonio Pittman to push me to be a better back. Now, all these things have to happen and I don't think, personally, these have happened. And I've been keeping really quiet about it and I'm going to remain quiet about it because I have a very strong opinion about it. I understand that I say something, it's taking the focus off what's really the problem. So I'm just going to let it reveal itself. I'm just going to stay back and play hard."

Jackson also said he would like to see linebacker Gary Stills play on defense, not just special teams, because Stills has the right attitude. Audio from Jackson's show can be found in six parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. The transcript above is from the first part. Jackson's comments about Bulger come about three minutes into the fourth segment.

VIDEO: ESPN analyst Darren Woodson gives his thoughts on Bulger's benching.