The Jaguars and their fans have been waiting for running back T.J. Yeldon to live up to his second round draft expectations. And, it appears that he is in position to have a season that finally does.
In the 14-10 win Saturday at Minnesota, Yeldon showed flashes of what attracted Jacksonville to him while watching him at Alabama. In particular, was this play in the second quarter where quarterback Blake Bortles floated the ball to the right to Yeldon and a perfectly set up screen:
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 19, 2018
The 30 yard catch and run helped eventually set up the only Jacksonville touchdown of the first half on a Leonard Fournette run. And speaking of Fournette, there’s no doubt that he’s the feature back. That is not in dispute.
However, the fact that Jacksonvile didn’t re-sign veteran Chris Ivory, and then didn’t take a back high up in the draft to back up for a potential backup, shows that the organization has faith in Yeldon.
“He’s having a fine camp, and we’re happy with where he is. We wanted to get him some carries in the base offense. We had a good plan for Leonard, what we wanted to see – and we had a good plan for T.J. I thought he did extremely well. He’s been really playing well for us.”
And there are reasons for them to be comfortable with him.
As we wrote a year ago, Yeldon was called upon in the Jaguars road game with the Colts and responded with a 122 yards on just nine carries and one TD game in an impressive win. He saw limited carries in most of the rest of the action through the end of the regular season, but then ended up contributing in the playoffs.
That included the divisional round upset of the Steelers, where Yeldon carried five times for 20 yards and a first half touchdown. And, he had an additional three catches and another 57 yards through the air.
That obviously stuck with coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nate Hackett on believing in Yeldon for 2018. Further, it’s a critical final year of his rookie deal this season.
So, Jacksonville knows they will get his very best, when they go to him.
And with Fournette having battled ankle problems dating back to his LSU days, they need insurance.
Insurance that Yeldon can provide.
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