Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaguars serious about improving rushing attack in 2015
Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars serious about improving rushing attack in 2015

Published Jun. 26, 2015 2:43 p.m. ET

In 2011, when Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL with 1,606 yards rushing, it may have been difficult to for Jacksonville Jaguars fans to imagine the the team struggling to run the ball. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, that was the last time they had a back break the 1,000-yard mark.

As ESPN's Mike DiRocco points out, the Jaguars have averaged just 88.8 yards per game on the ground over the last three seasons, third lowest in the NFL over than span.

With that in mind, the Jaguars have placed a renewed emphasis on running the football this season. The team worked on running plays during their non-contact offseason practices by using overturned garbage cans as stand-ins for defensive lineman. 

"Generally [in] OTAs it’s hard to emphasize the run," Bradley said, via ESPN. "You’re out there in no pads. OTAs generally becomes a passing [practice], 7-on-7 or a team pass session. What I like about what we’re doing is we’re getting garbage cans out there and we’re going through every run blocking scheme and the communication takes place. It’s a great emphasis to our players.

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"We’re not going to line up and go against each other three periods a day but we can get all these things done and I think it’s really sending a message to the team that the run is important. It’s easy to talk about it but that part demonstrates it."

So will the extra work translate into success?  The team returns leading rushing Denard Robinson, who ran for 583 yards last year and veteran Toby Gerhart. They also claimed Bernard Pierce off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens. But the biggest improvement is expected to come via T.J. Yeldon, the team's second round pick out of Alabama. The Jaguars have been pleased with Yeldon's progress thus far.

"He has good awareness of where his defenders are," general manager Dave Caldwell said. "He feels the first level while he’s seeing the second level, which is really good for backs.

"T.J. is a back that has very good burst, can get to the perimeter, and he can be a one-cut back to turn it up. He’s also got a little stutter-and-go where he can be patient in the hole."

But while the plan is for Yeldon to eventually become the workhorse back the Jaguars are looking for, DiRocco points out the team plans to ease him into the role. That means he likely won't get as many carries as he would if he were used as a three-down back. That could make reaching 1,000 yards difficult this season.

So the Jaguars effort to establish a running game that keeps defenses honest may become a group effort between Yeldon, Robinson and Gerhart.

(h/t ESPN)

Photo credit: Phil Sears/USA TODAY Sports

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