NCAA

Rams' Laurinaitis big fan of teammate Jackson

201212161443530291764-p2.jpeg

Rams' Laurinaitis big fan of teammate Jackson

ST. LOUIS (AP) St. Louis linebacker James Laurinaitis thinks it's about time Rams running back Steven Jackson got more recognition for his long, productive career.

On Sunday, Jackson became the 27th player in NFL history to rush for 10,000 yards when he ran for 73 yards in a 36-22 loss to Minnesota.

Laurinaitis, who leads the Rams (6-7-1) with 153 tackles, believes Jackson hasn't gotten enough credit for reaching that milestone.

``I think it's been a disservice all week to (the) national media that people haven't been talking about his 10,000th,'' Laurinaitis said Thursday. ``The way he handles himself as a pro is unbelievable. Especially in this day and age. Running backs have a short life. It's a passing league now. And we've got somebody on our squad that has done this impressively for a long time.

It's an honor to be his teammate.''

Jackson, the former Oregon State star in his ninth NFL season, is closing in on another milestone. He needs 91 yards over the last two games to hit the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth season in a row. He would be the sixth player in NFL history to reach that plateau joining Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas, and LaDainian Tomlinson. Four of the five are in the Hall Of Fame. Tomlinson is likely headed there.

Laurinaitis has chased running backs like Jackson his entire career. And he has grown to appreciate Jackson's skills.

``It's unbelievable to be able to say you played with one of the guys who has reached this feat,'' Laurinaitis said.

Jackson takes his honors in stride, although feels the potential string of eight successive years of at least 1,000-yards is important.

``It means that I've been consistent over time and durable,'' Jackson said. ``It's hard to do in this league.''

Jackson, the Rams' first round pick in 2004, has spent his entire career in St. Louis.

``I never thought about eight years, but I thought year-in year-out as long as I was a starter, I wanted to be a 1,000-yard rusher,'' he said. ``I didn't realize that so few have accomplished what I have possible.''

Jackson has 33 100-yard rushing games in his career, second in team history behind Eric Dickerson with 38.

The Las Vegas native has rushed for 10,002 yards - the most among active backs. Frank Gore of San Francisco is second with 8,743.

``His career has been remarkable,'' St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford said.

Laurinaitis says that Jackson rarely talks about his accomplishments. For now, Jackson remains focused on Sunday's game at Tampa. The Rams, who end the regular season at Seattle, could finish with a winning record for the first time in Jackson's career.

``I haven't done it yet so it would mean a lot to me,'' Jackson said.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Wolfpack overcomes 10-minute scoring drought to top Virginia

ncstate_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Wolfpack overcomes 10-minute scoring drought to top Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- D.J. Funderburk scored 14 points before fouling out and North Carolina State overcame a second-half scoring drought of more than 10 minutes in a 53-51 victory against Virginia on Monday night.

C.J. Bryce added 13 points for the Wolfpack (14-5, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), including a jumper with 27 seconds left after allowing the shot clock to race to near 0:00. The victory ended an eight-game losing streak against the Cavaliers.

Viginia (12-6, 4-4) used a 15-0 run during the N.C. State scoring drought that lasted 10:13 to take a 46-42 lead, bringing the crowd at John Paul Jones Arena back into the game. But Jericole Hellems hit a 3-pointer for N.C. State with 3:38 left and, after a free throw by Mamadi Diakite for Virginia, Markell Johnson hit a 3-pointer and then Hellems' putback gave the Wolfpack a 50-47 lead.

Johnson and Bryce both missed the front end of one-and-one free throw opportunities, and Kihei Clark hit a pair for Virginia. Braxton Beverly made the first and missed the second for the Wolfpack with 7.2 seconds left, and the Cavaliers Casey Morsell was short on a contested 3 at the buzzer.

Clark led Virginia with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Wolfpack had used an 8-0 run to go ahead 42-31. Virginia helped out by going scoreless for more than 6 1/2 minutes. Francisco Caffaro, who had just been inserted into the game, ended the drought with 11:13 left.

BIG PICTURE

N.C. State: The Wolfpack seemed on their way to a solid victory until the drought, during which they were 1 for 8 from the field with five turnovers and repeatedly let the shot clock run down into single digits, forcing bad shots.

Virginia: In the Cavaliers' continuing search for scoring help, freshman Casey Morsell had as many as three field goals for the first time since a 65-56 victory against Navy on Dec. 29. He was 4 for 20 from the field in his last five games. He finished the night 4 for 9 and his buzzer-beater attempt was closely guarded.

UP NEXT

The Wolfpack remains on the road and plays at Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The Cavaliers go on the road and play at Wake Forest on Sunday.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE NCAA NEWS:

Quick Links

Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

WASHINGTON -- This may be the most realistic and self-aware Wizards team we have seen in a while. It wasn't long ago they had a penchant for talking big about what they believed they could accomplish. Nowadays, knowing where they are in the standings, their expectations are much more measured.

They know they are 12th in the Eastern Conference, even after beating the Pistons on Monday. They know their 14-28 record, which is 14 games under .500 and has them on pace to win 27 total games, isn't good.

But the Wizards are allowed to dream and they say making the playoffs is still something they would like to do.

"That's the goal, that's every day for us. [It's] in the back of my mind," shooting guard Bradley Beal said.

"I watch the games, I watch the standings and everything. We're not talking about it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "If that comes into play [we'll see]. The seventh and eighth seeds, the records aren't great."

There is certainly a case for that. The two teams currently occupying the bottom two playoff spots in the East have sub-.500 records. The seventh-ranked Magic are 20-23 and the Brooklyn Nets are in eighth with an 18-24 mark.

Last season, the Charlotte Hornets held up the Eastern Conference playoff bracket with a losing record as the eighth seed. They went 39-43, not good but still a much better pace than the Wizards are currently on. To win 39 games, they would have to go 25-16 the rest of the way.

Though they have shown some positive signs, going 4-4 in their last eight games, that would require going to a completely different level in the second half of the season. Still, there is no harm in maintaining their goals.

Beal, for one, has envisioned a way it can happen.

"Especially once All-Star hits, that second half is just flying. We have to tighten up and try to get some wins here before the break because that's usually the time when teams like to ease off the pedal a little bit. We have to take advantage of [that], that advantage of our schedule, take care of our bodies, and rally together," he said.

If the Wizards really, really wanted to go for the playoffs, they could try to add some pieces before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. But that should not be expected. In fact, this year's deadline for the Wizards likely won't be affected much at all by the playoff picture.

It's hard to envision them being buyers and they may not be able to be true sellers, either, due to injuries and other factors. Also, there is a belief in the front office that keeping a close distance in the playoff race could be a nice incentive for their young players, that having something to work for later in the season could help their development.

If the Wizards did somehow make the playoffs or even get close, that would be quite the surprise and it would say a lot about the direction of the organization. But in the long-term, it would seem to be more beneficial if they continue on their current course and end up with a top draft pick.

The Wizards right now have the fifth-worst record in the league. That would net them a lot of ping-pong balls for the draft lottery.

It seems likely that's where this season will end. But it doesn't hurt to try.

"We just want to play. We just want to finish the second half of the season playing better," Brooks said.

The Wizards are only 4 1/2 games back in the playoff race. Stranger things have happened.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: