Steven Jackson ready to face Rams

Updated: September 11, 2013, 6:33 PM ET
By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- As breakups go, the one between the St. Louis Rams and running back Steven Jackson went about as smooth as can be expected, especially after nine years together.

That's why Jackson, who signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons on March 15, offered nothing but kind words and fond memories of his time in St. Louis when discussing his former team Wednesday morning ahead of the teams' Week 2 matchup.

Likewise, Jackson doesn't plan to have any extra motivation entering Sunday's game against his former team aside from the usual desired outcome.

"I mean, I would be lying if I said I didn't want to get the win," Jackson said. "Of course I want to get the win, but I have to come out there and just remain in the zone, in my focus and not get too up.

"When you allow emotions to take over, your wind becomes shorter, you are not even thinking, you're not on your A-game, so I have to remind myself to stay in control, have the intensity that I normally play with and dial in and treat this game as [any other] I have done over the years."

Originally a first-round pick of the Rams in the 2004 NFL draft, Jackson went on to claim nearly every meaningful rushing record in franchise history in his nine seasons with the team.

Jackson rushed for 10,135 yards in that time, and his eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons made him one of six backs to hit that milestone.

Jackson was due to make $7 million in 2013, and he and the Rams mutually agreed to allow him to become a free agent after last season. Jackson said he and the Rams sat down and discussed how he'd fit into the offense moving forward and what would be best for his career as it enters its twilight.

[+] EnlargeSteven Jackson
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesNow with the Falcons, Steven Jackson offered nothing but kind words and fond memories of his time in St. Louis when discussing his former team.

From there, Jackson put together a list of criteria for what he wanted in a new team and left the rest up to agent Eugene Parker.

If no team was willing to meet those requirements, Jackson said retirement would have been a possibility.

"It was a real, legitimate option for me," Jackson said. "It probably wouldn't have been fun now, this time of the year because I know I have a lot left in the tank, but I am one of those hard-headed guys. Once I believe in something, I stick to it."

This week might have been particularly difficult for Jackson given that he's playing for a team many believe is a Super Bowl contender and going up against the Rams at home in the Georgia Dome.

Jackson said the good-natured trash talk has already been a part of his daily routine this week and mentioned he keeps in regular contact with many of his former teammates, including current Rams starting running back Daryl Richardson.

"They have done a good job of just checking in on me periodically, making sure that things were going smooth for me and wishing me the best of luck on the season," Jackson said. "We have all mutually agreed that we are going to play each other hard on Sunday, but after that, you know, we are going to root each other on throughout the season."

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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