Toby Gerhart fought hard to become a starting running back in the NFL. He had the ideal backup situation with the Minnesota Vikings, playing behind the best running back in the league, Adrian Peterson. After impressing during limited reps, he found his way to the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2014 season.
Expected to be the starter for the Jags, Gerhart fell flat on his face and has been surpassed by Denard Robinson on the depth chart. That wasn’t good enough for the Jags front office, however, and they brought in 2015 second round rookie T.J. Yeldon this offseason. Yeldon will be the starter going forward with Robinson slated to be his primary backup.
This all leaves Gerhart in an awkward situation. He’s trapped in a situation after signing a big contract to be a starter and has now found himself as the third running back on a team that fielded much worse runners than Adrian Peterson in 2014. Brad Berreman at Rant Sports did a good job outlining why Gerhart likely won’t be cut in his training camp profile. Gerhart may not be a starter and is in an awkward spot on the depth chart, but there is still a role for him with the team.
The big question is how that role will shake out.
Toby Gerhart isn’t going to be your typical backup running back, providing a change of pace or spelling the starter. That job will likely fall to Robinson. Gerhart may instead see increased time at fullback, providing another lead blocker for Yeldon or Robinson. Hopefully some touches come with that role as well. In this way Gerhart isn’t quite relegated to backup status once again, but is rather a versatile cog in the Jaguars offense. How that role plays out will likely determine whether he has value with the franchise beyond this season or not.
It’s an interesting career path for Gerhart, ultimately trading one backup job for another. Hopefully he finds a nice, comfortable niche that he can succeed at with the Jaguars during the 2015 season.
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