T.J. Yeldon expected to find success against Carolina Panthers


T.J. Yeldon, the rookie running back with 10 preseason yards to his name, must hit the ground running for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In fact, it’s expected of him.

As summed up by Ryan O’Halloran in the Florida Times-Union, “Compared to Denard Robinson, Toby Gerhart, etc., Yeldon darts, runs and cuts faster, period.”

He is a step above his peers and he is expected to prove that every time the Jags hand him the ball.

Second-round running backs of 2015 are first round running backs of the 1990s. Seeing two talents go in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft (Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon) was a shock to the normal NFL draft cycle. In today’s pass-happy NFL, running backs just aren’t first round selections as often as before.

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Instead, they fall to teams in the second round. Yeldon is one of those talents. He could have been a first-round pick in a different era, but now he’s a second-round sort of player.

He’s a player to keep an eye on and entering Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, you can expect that he will be a dominating force in his first NFL game.

With the news that T.J. Yeldon would be starting, he is no longer a “sleeper” pick for fantasy football owners and for those who track possible 1000 yard backs. He’s going to be right in that race. And that race starts this week.

The Carolina Panthers are featuring a defensive line that is struggling to come together due to injuries. With defensive tackle Star Lotulelei a possibility to miss the first game of the season, Frank Alexander gone for the season, and end Charles Johnson not seeing the field during exhibitions due to injury, the defensive line is hobbling into the regular season.

The Panthers are likely to be starting an interior defensive line that features rotations including Kawann Short, Colin Cole, Dwan Edwards, and Kyle Love. The latter two have just four starts between them over the last two seasons.

This isn’t to say that the Panthers line will be a pushover or that their stellar linebacking corps won’t be able to lift the defense but, rather, that the healthy, improved Jags offensive line can open some holes for Yeldon to shoot into and it is reasonable to expect him to have a strong game as a result.

Cole is the player to be most worried about on that Carolina defensive line. He’s a gifted run stopper. With Edwards and Love as less-stellar players, however, he’ll have to compensate for half of the defensive line not being on the same standard as himself and Short.

While we should not completely discount Edwards and Love, there’s room for success against this defensive line and a healthy Jags O-line can make it happen. Yeldon will find the holes and he will slip through for decent yardage against the Carolina Panthers.

We won’t see T.J. Yeldon decimate the Carolina defense in his first ever NFL game (at least I’m not getting my hopes up that much), but he is a gifted runner and the chance is certainly there. The expectation is that Yeldon can come out and hit the ground running. He can be something special.

…and if he can’t be special against a defensive line that isn’t up to full strength then the Jaguars may have much bigger issues to address than we thought.

Next: T.J. Yeldon belongs on your fantasy football team

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