Steven Jackson’s first-quarter touchdown got Atlanta off to a good start but that’s where his day ended.

Jackson who signed with the Falcons via free agency last March capped Atlanta’s first possession with an eight-yard TD reception. That proved to be Jackson’s last play of the game because of a thigh injury.

It’s not the first time Jackson has had soft tissue injuries early in the season.

In Game 2 last year for the Rams against Washington he suffered a groin injury. In the 2011 season opener against Philadelphia Jackson suffered a pulled quad after romping 47 yards for a touchdown on the Rams’ first offensive play.

Jackson gained zero yards on three carries Sunday before suffering his injury. Even so the Rams and Atlanta coach Mike Smith knew the Falcons’ running game wouldn’t be the same without him.

“When you lose your running back for the game it does change how you have to proceed” Smith said.

“They’re a totally different team when they don’t have him back there” Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “And you could kind of see that in the second half. They weren’t able to run the ball. You can’t bleed the clock. . . .So there’s something to be said for having a big back like that and I think they missed him.”

The scene was pretty normal during pregame warmups.

Eventually a few Rams players and team officials made their way over to Jackson for a quick hug and brief words including quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Kellen Clemens and wide receiver Chris Givens.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke who was on the field before the game also spoke briefly with Jackson.