Measuring 6’2” and 240 pounds, his perfectly kempt dreadlocks flowing effervescently from beneath his Rawlings helmet, Steven Jackson is about as imposing a figure as you’ll find at the running back position in the NFL.
“If you look at my physique, I’m a very powerful person; I have a powerful demeanor,” Jackson says.
Just don’t call him a power back.
“Although my physique may say I’m a powerful back, I never limit myself to that,” he says. “I can do things that a 190-pound running back can do, and I can also do what a 250-pound fullback can do.”
- St. Louis Rams RB Steven Jackson wants to become what he calls a "classical player."
Jackson flashes some elements of finesse in his skillset—excellent footwork and soft hands out of the backfield, for example—but what separates him from the typical 190-pound tailback is his superior power to burst through arm tackles and dish out punishing stiff arms to defenders.
Still, Jackson works to refine every single aspect of his game, from pass protection to catching the football—all part of his pursuit of becoming what he calls a “classical player.”
“I like to say ‘classical player,’ because I feel like I could have played in any era, because I believe I do everything well,” says the St. Louis Rams all-time rushing leader. “I could play with the guys in the '60s, who were some of the toughest football players to this day.”
Driving Jackson's throwback style of play are classic, power-building lifts such as the Top Half-Squat and Strongman exercises such as the Prowler Sled Drive and Reverse Sled Pull.
At a recent off-season workout, just a few weeks before he reports to the Rams' training camp, Jackson completed a 405-pound Half Squat on his fifth and final set. The bar was draped with two chains, each weighing 45 pounds, whose purpose was to overload his body during the top portion of the Squat.
“We add the heavy chains because it works the explosiveness coming up from the bottom of the Squat,” Jackson says. “I always like to push my body to the limit.
“My body feels good, especially when I’m able to lift the weight as easily as I was able to on that last set.”
Jackson may not want to be labeled a "power back," but there’s no denying his power generating capability. Ultimately, that is what has made him one of the league’s premier running backs of the last decade.
Photo: Layne Murdoch