With the NFL Draft coming in three days, they shuffling of skill position players is still continuing via free agency. And, one former Jaguar running back has found a new destination on Monday morning.
Bills are signing former Jaguars’ RB T.J. Yeldon to a two-year contract, per league source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 22, 2019
Yeldon, a former 2015 second round pick in Jacksonville, never lived up to that potential and has primarily been a backup for the Jaguars over his first four seasons. However, he was pressed into duty numerous times over the last two years, while filling in for frequently injured primary back Leonard Fournette.
While his stats were never overwhelming, Yeldon was a serviceable replacement in Doug Marrone’s offense. He accounted for over 900 yards from scrimmage last season, and actually had some success as a pass-catcher out of the backfield with 55 receptions for an 8.85 yards per catch average with four touchdowns.
Yeldon’s two best games in 2018 were back to back. First, in September in the win over the Jets, where he carried 18 times for 52 yards and a touchdown and had another three catches for 48 yards with a second score, as the Jaguars were victorious 31 – 12.
Filling in for Fournette again the next week in Kansas City, Yeldon ran 10 times for 53 yards and had another eight catch 69-yard game with a touchdown in the 30 – 14 defeat against the Chiefs.
The Bills are looking to bolster their stable of running backs in and around Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy. Earlier this offseason they signed former Dolphins and Colts running back Frank Gore to come in as a veteran backup. Obviously, Yeldon’s versatility appealed to coach Sean McDermott and his staff for the 2019 season.
Meanwhile in Jacksonville, there continues to be debate about the long-term future of Fournette. And, it would not be surprising if the Jaguars go ahead and try to deal him in and around the opening two nights of the draft for a premium draft pick, if they can get it.
Jacksonville has also signed a pair of other veteran running backs in former Seahawks RB Thomas Rawls and also, former Texans back Alfred Blue, as backup options.
This is part of what made Yeldon expendable and available to go to the Bills.
Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice
After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.
Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 17, 2019
First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) August 17, 2019
Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 25, 2018
Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.
Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.
However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.
The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.