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Steven Jackson Coming Off Minor Back Surgery
As St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Jim Thomas first reported Tuesday night, Steven Jackson underwent back surgery in early April to repair a herniated disc he suffered in late November of last season.

"It was a minor procedure," head coach Steve Spagnuolo told Thomas on Tuesday evening. "He feels great. It's really not a big deal."

But Spagnuolo did say Jackson probably would be held out of at least the start of organized team activities -- the full-squad practice sessions that begin May 18.

"Just to be sure," Spagnuolo said.

Indeed, Thomas reports there's a chance Jackson could be held out of practices until the start of training camp at the end of July.

Thomas went on to explain that Jackson originally hoped that rest and rehab would help the back heal. But when the back didn't respond, he opted for surgery, which took place less than a month ago.

According to Thomas, the surgery removed the herniated piece of the disc.

In case you missed it, Jackson suffered his back injury in the Rams' Nov. 22 home game against Arizona last season. What was originally described as back spasms turned out to be a herniated disc.

Nonetheless, Jackson was the starter in five of the team's final six games (missing the Dec. 27 road game at Arizona). Although his workload stayed high, the former first-round pick's production slipped after the injury (a decline Thomas notes could also have been caused in part by injuries on the offensive line).

Jackson averaged 103 rushing yards over his first 10 games. After the injury, he averaged 77 rushing yards a game in his final five contests.

The prognosis is Jackson will make a full return, but as The National Football Post's Brad Biggs reminded readers, you just never know with matters of the back. blogger Mike Sando agreed, advising his readers "that back injuries can be unpredictable and easily misunderstood.

"That was the lesson Seattle learned with Matt Hasselbeck."

Sando added: "The true test for Jackson will come during the regular season."

And that's the lone certainty here.

As a result, it's safe to say all involved -- including Fantasy Nation -- would have been better off had the former first-round pick elected to go under the knife earlier in the offseason.

But he didn't, giving us all a better idea of why the team took a look at Willie Parker before the draft and why they had Brian Westbrook in for a physical during the draft.

Remember, Spagnuolo and current Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur are both former Eagles assistants who know Westbrook well. But Philadelphia Inquirer staff Les Bowen pointed out the artificial game and practice fields the Rams use would be an issue given Westbrook's past knee issues (not to mention the concussion concerns).

Whatever the case, the fact that St. Louis hasn't offered Westbrook a contract (yet) can't possibly be due to confidence in the crew currently filling out the depth chart behind Jackson, where Kenneth Darby and Chris Ogbonnaya are the only returning veterans at the position.

Thomas noted the team did sign running backs Keith Toston of Oklahoma State and De'Maundray Woolridge of Idaho as rookie free agents after the draft, and both players took part in last weekend's rookie mini-camp.

Still, I'll go out on a limb here and predict an addition is coming at some point -- whether it's Westbrook or another (perhaps more viable) veteran who becomes available as camp draws nearer.

Adding to the intrigue would be the team's situation at quarterback, where coaches would almost certainly be more comfortable rolling with rookie Sam Bradford, the first pick overall in last month's draft, with Jackson lining up behind at full strength.

So. ... Let's officially add Jackson and the Rams' backfield to the list of situations that merit additional scrutiny as we head into the summer. Stay tuned.