Jags RB Denard Robinson has outlasted all the changes at running back over the last few years, but he is still facing competition.
After injured tailback Jonas Gray was waived last week, the trio of Robinson, Corey Grant and Joe Banyard are entrenched in one of the most interesting preseason storylines as each battles for a limited number of roster spots behind starters T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory.
The Jaguars won’t carry a fullback on their 53-man roster, which could create room for a fourth or fifth tailback when the roster is trimmed.
Robinson, Grant and Banyard could be vying for two roster spots — or if each makes the roster, are jockeying for playing time. They appeared in the Tampa Bay preseason game in that order. Yeldon and Ivory are supposed to split time, so the team's RB3 could have fantasy value should Ivory or Yeldon get injured, something that happened to both last season.
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles will not finish as the team’s second-leading rusher this season.
The two are starting to form the enviable tandem Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell visualized.
Both had strong efforts for the second consecutive week, combining for 54 yards and a touchdown in three possessions against Tampa Bay on Saturday night at EverBank Field.
“The better they are, the better the passing game is going to be,” Bortles said. “Those two are going to be a heck of a duo. The offensive line did a really good job letting those guys run and making holes for them. The better those guys are, the more we’re going to be able to be successful with play-action.”
The bad news about the Jags running situation is this looks like a 50-50 split, and the story confirmed that again. Obviously not great fantasy potential. We have Yeldon rated higher in both formats but in standard they are separated by just one spot since Ivory should get the goal line carries. Yeldon seems to be the back to own in PPR formats.
Martin is sitting out for "precautionary reasons," the source said, and the injury is not expected to affect him beyond this week.
The injury absence was first reported by The Tampa Bay Times and confirmed by ESPN.
Martin was a full participant in joint practices in Jacksonville, including Wednesday's padded practice. It is unclear when he suffered the injury, the story said.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 8:58pm
Geno Smith’s uneven summer continued Tuesday, with the backup quarterback struggling so mightily during practice that he slammed his helmet to the ground. Smith was almost intercepted multiple times, was inaccurate and fumbled a few snaps.
Smith again declined to speak to reporters following several stories early last week, including one in The Post, about the one-year anniversary of his jaw getting broken by IK Enemkpali. Smith was booed in the preseason opener Thursday against the Jaguars, and declined to be interviewed afterward, a violation of NFL policy.
Monday, August 8, 2016, 4:12pm
Clay Harbor, formerly of the Eagles and Jaguars, inked a two-year deal with the Pats in the spring, receiving a reported $400,000 signing bonus. That's a hefty guarantee for a player that is not considered a lock to make the final roster.
Or perhaps the Pats truly do have a spot set aside for Harbor. After all, he gives them something different.
While Gronkowski and Bennett have, as Bill Belichick said, "interchangeable" skill sets, the 6-foot-2 Harbor is in the "move" tight end mold: athletic and agile with the ball in his hands, able to serve as a fullback, and able to line up wide.
Monday, August 8, 2016, 7:47am
The clock is ticking on Pierce, who signed on the first day of camp and promptly pulled a hammy. There's a limit to the team's patience. "As camp goes, there’s a problem if you stay in the training room when you just got here and you haven’t shown yourself," coach Todd Bowles said. "He has (games) on tape. As the running backs get healthy, those who make plays, obviously get to play." Consider that a warning, Bernard.
Forte already has been ruled out for Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the preseason opener. There are only four healthy backs, only one of whom (Bilal Powell) is a lock to make the roster.
Lee did only individual work on Sunday but that was the first time he had participated in any part of practice since the first day of training camp. He suffered a mild left hamstring strain and missed the next seven practices (including Friday night's scrimmage). Coach Gus Bradley said the team will know more about Lee's status on Monday because they want to see how his hamstring responds.
"It seems like with his tempo work and everything that he’s doing, his high-speed accelerations, all that we look at, [he has made] really good progress," Bradley said.
Lee insisted that this hamstring strain wouldn't keep him off the field very long -- and certainly not as long as hamstring injuries have kept him out of action in the past. Lee is still behind Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns on the depth chart, and possibly even Rashad Greene at this point.
While the wait to see Forte at practice has come to an end, the wait to see him in game action with his new team is likely to extend a little longer.
Greg Olson can see a difference in Allen Robinson.
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ third-year receiver has become a better route runner, especially on short and intermediate routes. He’s crisper in his cuts and is getting a larger amount of separation from defensive backs.
But Olson also has noticed something else about Robinson: He’s playing with more of an edge than he did in his breakout season in 2015.
"Whether it is an edge or confidence or something to prove, he is playing angry," said Olson, who is entering his second season as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator. "We have talked to him as a big receiver you need to play big and play that way. I think confidence is a big part of it."
It would be hard for Robinson not to be confident after catching 80 passes for 1,400 yards and a franchise-record 14 touchdowns and making the Pro Bowl last season. He wasn’t satisfied, though, and spent the offseason working on becoming a better route runner. There’s an argument that the Jaguars’ passing game is bound to regress after the team posted a 35-to-5 pass-to-rush TD ratio and invested significant cap space and draft capital on the defensive side of the ball. But Robinson is an emerging star and he should see plenty of work, regardless of gameflow. Plus, if Blake Bortles’ takes another step forward in his third year, the increased efficiency of the passing game could offset any potential drop in Robinson’s targets.
Jags TE Julius Thomas has accepted the fact that he may always have some slight pain in his right hand whenever he catches a football.
He dealt with it all of last season after suffering a fractured bone in the back of his hand in the Jacksonville Jaguars' first preseason game. The pain was significantly worse when he did get back on the field in Week 5, but he played through it, so a minor ache now is no problem.
"I don’t know if everything always goes back [to the way it was before the injury]," Thomas said Saturday after the Jaguars’ third training camp practice. "I’ve learned how to do everything I need to do."
It will not impact the way he plays, the story said, and he’s looking forward to continuing to develop chemistry with quarterback Blake Bortles. He said that was going well during OTAs, minicamp and the beginning of training camp last season before the injury, after which it took him a while to find his way back into the offense. We have Thomas as a top-10 option among our TEs.
It’s another setback for Lee (hamstring), who didn’t miss an OTA or minicamp practice this spring/summer. He has missed practice time the last two training camps with knee and hamstring issues. Yeldon (right ankle) was limping around the locker room after yesterday’s workout because of an issue with his new cleats.
Jags QB Blake Bortles enters this year's camp with a clear mind.
That should be good news for the Jaguars' offense. Bortles had a rough rookie season in 2014. He threw for 11 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions, then spent the entire offseason reworking his throwing motion (he shortened his windup and lengthened his follow-through) and cleaning up fundamentals. That helped him make a significant leap in his second season, when he set franchise records in attempts (606), completions (355), passing yards (4,428) and passing touchdowns (35).
Earlier this month, Bortles spent six days in California with throwing coach Tom House, who helped him the previous offseason, but only to fine-tune a few things. He spent the rest of the offseason throwing with receivers in town, seeking advice from quarterbacks such as Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. The fantasy community is expecting Bortles to regress in his third season due to his outrageous share of total touchdowns (taking part in 37 of the team’s 40 offensive touchdowns), the addition of Chris Ivory as a short yardage threat and a boatload of free agency money and draft picks thrown at the defensive side of the ball. Still, as the 10th or 11th QB off the board, he’s a solid pick given his weapons in the receiving game.
The main question with Forte is how much tread he has left on the tire. He had a remarkable workload in Chicago. He leads the NFL in all-purpose yards (12,718) since he entered the league in 2008. Forte is now 30, which is seen by most as the point where running backs fall off the cliff. Forte is out to prove them wrong.
Chan Gailey will come up with plenty of creative ways to get Forte the ball. Gailey loves to throw to running backs, and Forte is as good as it gets in that department. I would expect to see plenty of screen passes and Forte lined up at wide receiver in certain formations.
Forte may lose carries to Bilal Powell and/or Khiry Robinson, and is unlikely to score many rushing touchdowns. But if he's utilized regularly in the slot, he should be able to catch at least 50 passes, maybe more. Jets running backs caught a total of 90 balls last season under OC Chan Gailey. Forte hasn’t finished outside the top 12 in PPR formats in his eight-year career.
It's all about Matt Forte, who will be asked to replace 1,000-yard rusher Chris Ivory as the lead dog in the Jets' backfield. Forte will be highly motivated after getting the cold shoulder from his forever team, the Chicago Bears. Forte, 30, is battling Father Time and a cranky knee that sparked some concern in free agency, but he's said to be healthy and rejuvenated as he approaches his ninth season. His workload will be an ongoing story. As a three-down back for the Bears, he averaged 315 touches (rushes and receptions) per year. That's a bit steep for an aging runner, so look for a time-share system with Bilal Powell.
There was a noticeable improvement last season in Powell's speed and quickness. He set career highs in yards per rush (4.5) and receptions (47), becoming a valuable member of the offense. He was the ideal complement to the bruising Ivory, but the dynamics have changed. Powell and Forte have similar skill sets, so it'll be interesting to how it plays out in terms of role definition.
Khiry Robinson could wind up as the short-yardage/goal-line back (fantasy alert). Don't be surprised if he starts camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Robinson sat out the offseason as he recovered from a broken leg, but he should be good to go in the preseason.
Forte may lose carries to Powell and/or Robinson, and is unlikely to score many rushing touchdowns. But if he's utilized regularly in the slot, he should be able to catch at least 50 passes, maybe more. Jets running backs caught a total of 90 balls last season under OC Chan Gailey. Forte hasn’t finished outside the top 12 in PPR formats in his eight-year career.
The Jaguars’ running back situation, chiefly how the carries will be divided between Ivory and T.J. Yeldon, is a frequent question. Most expect Ivory to be the starter and Yeldon a third-down back. But don’t be surprised if it ends being a more even split (55-45 range).
What will be interesting is if the Jaguars coaches take the Hot Hand Approach, giving Ivory and Yeldon equal first-half work and then leaning on one guy in the second half.
We currently project a 53/47 split in carries between Ivory and Yeldon. Ivory is probably the better bet in standard formats, while Yeldon could end up with more points in PPR leagues.
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