T.J. Yeldon joins Denard Robinson, Toby Gerhart, Storm Johnson, and Bernard Pierce in the Jacksonville Jaguars running back stable this year and he is expected to lead that group. What isn’t expected is for him to be on the filed 99% of the time, especially with the skills Robinson displayed last year while leading Jaguars running backs.
While it wouldn’t be terrible to see Gerhart lost some playing time and see Robinson thrive with limited touches, what is most anticipated is for Yeldon to be the primary ball carrier while splitting time with some of the more veteran players at the position. What that split amounts to is another question entirely, but offensive coordinator Greg Olson is confident in Yeldon’s ability to carry the load. So confident in fact that earlier this month he stated that, “[Playing every down] would be asking a lot of any player. I wouldn’t put it past him. He’s another real self-starter and hard worker.” Olson also noted that Yeldon came through big in big moments and games, something that could be key for the Jaguars as they need someone to rely on in clutch moments.
A self-starter and hard worker is important at the running back position, especially as the Jaguars need to rely on a player who can be a definitive feature back in the NFL. But would Yeldon succeed as an every down back? NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling read Olson’s statement as a possibility that he could be.
Personally, I think it would be incredibly tough for Yeldon to come in and be an every down back for the Jaguars. The team simply isn’t equipped enough at this point for a rookie running back to be successful each and every down. I’m not certain they’re equipped enough for Adrian Peterson to be successful each and every down. No matter how good T.J. Yeldon is ability-wise, football is a team sport and he will have to rely on support from the offensive line and the passing game.
I also believe he should be supported and supplemented by the other running backs on the roster. Maybe Yeldon becomes an every down back at some point in his career, but for now I think he’ll be the feature back with plenty of flashes of Robinson and Gerhart.
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