Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said during the preseason that rookie Storm Johnson had the best instincts of all the team’s running backs. That seemed to be on display in Sunday’s 17-9 loss to Pittsburgh.
In his first action of the season, Johnson ran four times for 27 yards, an average of 6.8 per carry. That doesn’t include a 9-yard run called back because of a holding penalty. Johnson also had a 20-yard run, which is the longest by a Jaguars running back this season. Next longest is a 13-yard gain by Toby Gerhart, who has 48 carries.
"I thought he did a good job," Bradley said of Johnson. "I know he came out with his ankle [slightly hurt] but I think they re-taped it, but we got him some more reps in there [after getting the ankle re-taped]. His objective is we’ve got to gain trust in him. He had a couple of good weeks of practice. We gave him an opportunity and we’ll evaluate it from here on."
The 6-foot, 216-pound Johnson, the team’s seventh-round pick, is still a liability when it comes to blocking and pass protection, but he might be the team’s best option to kick-start the running game. Gerhart had 9 yards on four carries, though he did tweak an ankle early in the game, and Denard Robinson had 6 yards on three carries.
The team seems to be making Robinson a work-in-progress RB, but Johnson seems to have the best natural ability. Given the state of the Jags, Johnson would be a risky fantasy play, because he may not see a lot of time if the team falls behind due to his lack of pass blocking abilities at the moment. But if you're hurting at the position or looking for a stash or a sleeper guy to take up a roster spot, Johnson probably fits the mold. Any kind of emergence of Johnson certainly seems to hurt what little value Gerhart has right now.