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Yeldon has Jaguars re-thinking running back game plan

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon couldn’t even make it onto the game day roster the first six games of the season. Now he may be in line to replace Chris Ivory as the backup to Leonard Fournette.

That’s what running for 122 yards and a touchdown will do for you. It’ll make your coaches rethink your role, which is what Jaguars coach Doug Marrone appears to be doing with Yeldon.

 “I think it makes you look at things and say where are we with the running backs, what’s the situation, where are we on special teams?’’ Marrone said earlier this week.

 “I’ve always tried to get T.J. up, but it’s a matter of that game-day roster number (because that) really limits you because you have to have X-amount of positions on (special) teams. That’s always been the struggle.’’

Yeldon knows all about struggles. A second-round pick (No. 36 overall) of the Jaguars in 2015, he’s one of the reasons the Jaguars felt the need to spend their first-round pick this year on Fournette.

The Jaguars might not have done that had Yeldon played to expectations either of the last two years, but he failed in that regard, running 312 times for 1,205 yards and three touchdowns over that span.

Injuries haven’t helped Yeldon any, but give him credit, when the Jaguars needed him to step in on Sunday he did and he showed he still has the ability to be the game wrecker the Jaguars always thought he could be.

Of course, the struggle the Jaguars have now stems at least in part from the fact that Ivory hasn’t really done anything to warrant being pulled from the lineup.

He’s been solid both as a runner and as a pass catcher, running 57 times for 209 yards (3.7 per carry) and a touchdown while catching 16 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown.

Those aren’t the kind of numbers that automatically suggest his role needs to be changed or reduced, but it’s clear that Yeldon has earned another look.

After all, there’s a lot the Jaguars could do if Fournette and Yeldon could somehow provide them with the kind of one-two punch that DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart once gave the Panthers.

It’s probably a little too early to suggest that’s going to happen, but the Jaguars will never know if they don’t put the two in the lineup together and try to find out.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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