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Haslett says RB Jackson '50-50' to play against Patriots Sunday

Running back Steven Jackson's availability for Sunday's game at New England will be a game-time decision, St. Louis Rams coach Jim Haslett said Friday.

ST. LOUIS -- Running back Steven Jackson's availability for Sunday's game at New England will be a game-time decision, St. Louis Rams coach Jim Haslett said Friday.

Jackson did some individual work before practice in St. Louis, but he did not work out with the Rams (2-4) as they prepared for the Patriots (4-2). Jackson, the Rams' leading rusher and receiver, has a strained right thigh muscle.

Jackson, first in the NFL averaging 127.8 yards from scrimmage per game, is a big part of the St. Louis offense.

"He had some limited reps today," Haslett said. "He doesn't need a lot of reps because he knows everything. I'll be honest with you, I think it'll be 50-50 (if he plays)."

A trio of backs -- Antonio Pittman, Travis Minor and Kenneth Darby -- would fill in if Jackson isn't ready. Pittman, the backup much of last year, has missed the last three games with a broken bone in his left leg. Minor plays mostly on special teams. The Rams recently signed Darby off the Atlanta practice squad.

Pittman was hurt in the third game against the Seahawks and has been inactive since. He said he has not been told his role against the Patriots.

"It's too early to tell," said Pittman, who rushed for 145 yards on 38 carries last year as Jackson's backup. "I'm not sure what Jackson is going to do. If my number gets called, I'll be ready."

In practice this week, Pittman said the key for him was getting his timing back.

"The biggest thing was getting back out there and getting the feel of things," Pittman said. "Getting in the groove again."

After Jackson was hurt in last week's 34-14 win over Dallas, Minor rushed for 15 yards on five carries and caught two passes for 16 yards.

He still expects to play his usual role on special teams.

"You always prepare yourself as if you're going to be playing," Minor said. "Mentally, as far as knowing what to do, this week hasn't been much different. I have no idea how it's going to be (on Sunday). I'll approach it like I always do.

"I'm on all the special teams. When the coaches call my number, I'll be ready. But Jackson may be fine, Pittman may get in there and have a great start. I'll be prepared for whatever. I understand my role."

Defensive tackle Adam Carriker, the Rams' first-round pick in 2007, sprained his left ankle in the first half of last week's victory over Dallas. He practiced some Friday and is questionable.

Wide receiver Derek Stanley will play Sunday on special teams and be part of the offense, Haslett said. Stanley was knocked unconscious for about 20 seconds after a helmet-to-helmet hit against Dallas.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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