The Browns only can daydream that Brady Quinn is this year’s Steven Jackson — the draft pick who should never have been a 20-something.
The Browns only can daydream that Brady Quinn is this year’s Steven Jackson — the draft pick who should never have been a 20-something. Quinn slipped to No. 22 in April, but was he a steal? He isn’t playing because Derek Anderson has been surprisingly good. Jackson — Anderson’s former Oregon State roommate — is back from a four-week injury absence, eager to help the Rams beat Cleveland on Sunday. “It’s obvious we missed him,” Rams head coach Scott Linehan said. Twenty-three teams chose to miss Jackson in 2004. Partly because he was only 20 years old, Jackson still was waiting when the Bills picked J.P. Losman at No. 22 and the Seahawks tapped Marcus Tubbs at No. 23. The Rams grabbed Jackson at No. 24. “It’s four seasons later,” Jackson said Wednesday with a smirk that jumped right through the phone. “I think it’s panned out all right for the Rams.” By 2006, Jackson was producing more spectacularly than any 2004 top 10 pick, including Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Kellen Winslow Jr. As a third-year pro, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Jackson gave the Rams 1,528 rushing yards and 806 receiving yards. His NFL-best 2,334 yards from scrimmage topped LaDainian Tomlinson’s 2,323 and Larry Johnson’s 2,199. The Browns’ top three in the category, Reuben Droughns, Braylon Edwards and Winslow, totaled 2,693 yards. This year, Jackson rushed for 233 yards through three games, barely more then Jamal Lewis’ 216 yards against Cincinnati, before missing a month with a groin injury. Now? Anderson warns that a fresh Jackson is dangerous. “We were roommates my freshman year,” Anderson said. “Even as a freshman, he was a man among boys, running guys over. “Our sophomore year, he pretty much ran over Oregon’s secondary, including Keith Lewis, who plays for the 49ers now. “Steven is 235 (pounds), and he’s lean. He just kind of crushes guys, and he doesn’t ever quit. He’s just like Jamal, a physical back with a little speed.” Dreadlocks flowing, Jackson is featured on the cover of the Rams’ 2007 press guide. He is in the foreground of a collage including past Rams rushing stars Lawrence McCutcheon, Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk. “He’s a dangerous guy,” Browns linebacker Kamerion Wimbley said. “He is hard to bring down.” Anderson began seeing that in 2001, when they had some laughs as “giants” in an international dorm where most of the residents conversed in something other than English. “Derek’s a great guy, one of the reasons I decided to go to Oregon State,” Jackson said. “We keep in contact weekly, giving support to each other. “It’s funny how Derek’s situation is panning out. I text (messaged) him and said, ‘Make it hell on them to make a decision (on when to play Quinn).” Anderson ranks 12th in the NFL with an 88.9 passer rating, just below Carson Palmer’s 89.1. His take on his friendship with Jackson? “It’s cool. I talk to him a little bit. I texted him back and forth the last couple of days. I give him a hard time.” The Rams are 0-7, hard times indeed. But if Jackson is his old self, the Browns’ 30th-ranked run defense might be too easy. “He’s been out for four weeks,” Anderson said. “He’ll have a little more energy than some guys. He’s going to be a force.” Reach Canton Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or email@example.com.