The Jacksonville Jaguars running back position looks quite crowded heading into OTAs and training camp. After the team selected Leonard Fournette with the fourth pick in last month’s NFL draft, the first thing that came to my mind was how would head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett keep everybody happy.
It’s a fair question, given the fact that nobody on the roster last year gained 500 yards on the ground. TJ Yeldon, Chris Ivory and Corey Grant all had their moments. But at the end of the day, one or more of this trio could be looking for another job before the start of the NFL season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars brain trust of Marrone, Tom Coughlin and David Caldwell will have to decide who stays and who goes. While there is a distinct possibility that all three are on the roster at the end of preseason, I still say things will change.
Ivory could be the odd man out.
Two years ago, Ivory led the AFC in rushing as a member of the New York Jets. After the season he signed a free-agent contract with the Jaguars. The investment, although inexpensive by league standards, didn’t yield the kind of results the Jacksonville Jaguars expected. Ivory was injured during the season, and had an issue with fumbling the football. His season total of 439 yards is nothing to get excited about. While he is one of the more bruising runners in the league, everyone from the coaching staff to the fan base expected more.
Yeldon is in the third year of his rookie deal. He figures to still be a big part of the running game. The former Alabama star is a second round pick from 2015 and should be the team’s second option behind Fournette. At 6-foot-1 and 223 pounds, he could be the perfect complement to the rookie out of LSU.
If Fournette is going to be the lead dog in this pack of thoroughbreds, then someone is going to have to step up and remain a close second. Ivory, who would appear to be a Tom Coughlin-like running back, cannot make the same mistakes he made last year. And he must stay healthy and he must hold onto the football. If not, training camp maybe the last time fans see him in teal and black.
For the first time in sometime, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a “good” problem when it comes to the team’s running game. Grant figures to remain with the team because of his return abilities. Yeldon isn’t somebody this team will give up on. If he isn’t cut, Ivory is going to have to work extra hard to prove last year wasn’t indicative of what he can do running between the tackles.
He should be up to the task.
When he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars last year, Ivory said he came here to start. He proved in camp to be the better back between him and Yeldon. Now he must prove that he is good enough to remain on the roster and backup the guy who is coming in to take his spot as a starter of this football team.