AFC South: Justin Forsett

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have released running back Justin Forsett after one disappointing season.

With only three backs now on the roster -- and only one with more than 100 career carries -- and the doubtful return of Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars are almost assuredly going to try and add a No. 1 back in free agency and/or the draft.

When Forsett signed to be Jones-Drew's backup last March, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said he envisioned a bigger role for Forsett, but a pair of injuries derailed that. Forsett suffered a sprained toe on his right foot on Aug. 1 in the first live practice period of training camp and missed the rest of camp and all of preseason. Meanwhile, first-year back Jordan Todman led the team in rushing in the preseason (223 yards) and earned a bigger role on offense.

Fifth-round pick Denard Robinson eventually landed at running back after a stint at wide receiver and also was worked into the rotation.

Forsett carried the ball just six times for 31 yards and caught 15 passes for 82 yards before suffering a broken bone in his foot against Houston on Nov. 24. He has rushed for 1,692 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 115 passes for 850 yards and one touchdown in his six-year career with Seattle, Indianapolis, Houston and Jacksonville.

The most experienced back remaining on the roster is Delone Carter, whom the team signed on Dec. 9. He did not appear in a game for the Jaguars but had 133 carries for 499 yards and five touchdowns in his first two seasons with Indianapolis.

Todman ran for 256 yards and two touchdowns in his first season, including 109 yards on 25 carries against Buffalo in his first start in place of the injured Jones-Drew. Robinson has just 66 yards on 20 carries.

The free-agent market for running backs is pretty solid, with Ben Tate topping the list. Other players available include James Starks, LeGarrette Blount, Knowshon Moreno, Anthony Dixon and Darren McFadden. The Jaguars may add one free agent, most likely a young back, and also are likely to draft one in the middle rounds in May.

Free-agency series: Running backs

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
Here is the second of a 10-part series breaking down the Jaguars’ free-agency needs, position by position:

Running backs

Who’s on the roster: Delone Carter, Shaun Chapas (FB), Justin Forsett, Maurice Jones-Drew, Denard Robinson, Jordan Todman and Will Ta'ufo'ou (FB).

Analysis: Jones-Drew becomes an unrestricted free agent next month, but every other player is under contract through at least 2014. Jones-Drew fought through ankle, hamstring and knee issues to rush for 803 yards and five touchdowns. The running game, though, never really got going until the 11th game of the season. The Jaguars ran for at least 112 yards in games 11-14 but things dropped off the table after that: 105 yards in the last two games combined. Part of the yearlong issue was due to the offensive line’s struggles, but the fact that the Jaguars rarely made any explosive plays in the run game was a big factor as well. The Jaguars had just four runs of 30 or more yards all season. Todman was solid as Jones-Drew’s backup and ran for 109 yards in his only start, but he’s not a featured back. Forsett was hurt in camp and never found his fit in the offense and likely will be released. Robinson never had a defined role until settling in at running back midway through the season and he has had ball-security issues. Carter and Chapas (practice squad) were signed late in the season.

NFL free agents of interest: Ben Tate, Darren McFadden, Knowshon Moreno, James Starks, Anthony Dixon and LeGarrette Blount.

Need meter: 7. If Jones-Drew does not re-sign with the Jaguars -- and right now it appears he won’t -- the team needs to sign a replacement via free agency. There are a lot of affordable options on the market because of the number of players available. Tate tops the list and should be the Jaguars’ top target at this position, but if they’re looking for a cheaper option then Starks, who has been a featured back in spurts with Green Bay, could be an option. Robinson is an intriguing player on the roster, though, because the staff is having him bulk up a bit to handle the pounding of playing running back. If he can solve his fumbling problems, he could be a surprise. Expect the team to draft at least one back as well.
With the NFL combine starting Wednesday, here's a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars' positions of need on offense and which prospects the team might be looking to take a closer look at in Indianapolis. Positions of need are listed in order of importance. A look at the defense comes Tuesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have a lot of holes to fill on the roster and the next part in the process comes this week when general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley evaluate, watch and interview prospects at the NFL combine.

Here's a breakdown of what the Jaguars need, in order, on offense and some potential targets:

Quarterback: There's no question this is the Jaguars' top need, although pass-rusher is only slightly behind. Caldwell wants to re-sign Chad Henne before free agency begins next month, but Henne is a bridge player or someone who can mentor a young quarterback and begin the season as the starter if the rookie isn't ready. The Jaguars haven't completely given up on Blaine Gabbert, either, but he's entering the final year of his contract and it would be surprising if he were re-signed after 2014.

Potential targets: Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Aaron Murray.

Interior offensive line: The Jaguars have to find a center to replace the retired Brad Meester and a left guard to upgrade from Will Rackley. The Jaguars will address this area in free agency as well but the team also wants to add some young talent. The Jaguars appear set at both tackles (Luke Joeckel and Austin Pasztor) and right guard Uche Nwaneri has two more years remaining on his contract. He's scheduled to make $4.775 million in each year, though, and could be a cap casualty after 2014. Mike Brewster and Jacques McClendon can play guard and center but neither appears, now anyway, to be the long-term answer. It wouldn't be surprising if the team took an interior offensive lineman in the third round, especially if the Jaguars took a quarterback earlier.

Potential targets: G Gabe Jackson, G David Yankey, G Brandon Thomas, C Marcus Martin, C Weston Richburg, C Russell Bodine.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Stephen Morton/AP PhotoThe Jaguars need to find a feature back in the event they do not re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew.
Running back: The Jaguars are more than likely going to lose Maurice Jones-Drew in free agency, which leaves them with Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, Delone Carter, and Justin Forsett on the roster. Forsett is likely going to be cut, but even if he's retained none of those players is a feature back. The Jaguars don't need to invest a high pick at this spot because good backs can be found in the later middle rounds.

Potential targets: Lorenzo Taliaferro, Jerick McKinnon, Tre Mason, Lache Seastrunk, Dri Archer, Andre Williams.

Receiver: The Jaguars aren't planning on getting anything from Justin Blackmon in 2014 because they don't yet know his status, which is the correct way to approach his situation. Cecil Shorts is entering a contract year but has yet to stay healthy for a full season. Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Lamar Thomas, and Stephen Burton are complementary players. The Jaguars need to find a bigger, physical receiver. If they do that in free agency, this area drops to the bottom of the offensive needs list.

Potential targets: Josh Huff, Odell Beckham Jr., Davante Adams.

Tight end: Marcedes Lewis came on strong at the end of the season and he should be a 50-catch player in Jedd Fisch's offense if he stays healthy. After Lewis, though, there isn't much. Clay Harbor is a flex tight end but he's a free agent and the Jaguars will have to decide if they want to re-sign him. Danny Noble is raw and needs more work. The Jaguars want a bigger tight end who can line up next to Lewis in two-tight-end formations.

Potential targets: Marcel Jensen, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Crockett Gilmore, Jake Murphy.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars general manager David Caldwell can be very aggressive in free agency if he chooses because the Jaguars are projected to have the third-most cap room available when the free-agency period begins next month.

According to a Feb. 7 report from Roster Management System, the Jaguars will have nearly $30 million in cap space. The team's cap number -- which includes salaries, penalties, dead money, and futures contracts -- for 2014 is $96,517,190, well below the estimated 2014 salary cap of $126 million.

That leaves the Jaguars with $29,482,810 to spend on free agents and draft picks.

Only two teams in the NFL have more projected cap room: Indianapolis ($33,096,844) and Oakland ($58,242,920).

But just because the Jaguars have a significant amount of money to spend doesn't mean Caldwell will be writing a lot of big checks. The Jaguars will target some offensive and defensive linemen in free agency, especially a center, and will be somewhat aggressive early and then back off in the hopes of finding a bargain later in free agency.

That doesn't mean the Jaguars are going to jump into the competition for Alex Mack, who is one of the league's top centers. Ryan Kalil signed a six-year, $49.12 million deal in 2011 with Carolina that made him the NFL's highest-paid center and Mack's deal is expected to top that.

He may not even be available, either, because Cleveland could sign him to an extension before his contract expires last month. Mack also said he would give the Browns the chance to match any offer he received.

"Some of these guys [available linemen] are going to get signed before free agency becomes available," Caldwell said. "We'll just have to wait and see who becomes available and who's out there. You have the franchise tag and some other methods that teams use to keep their guys so we'll see.

"There will be another influx of guys that become available when teams have to get under the salary cap."

Waiting paid off for the Jaguars last year. They signed four unrestricted free agents from other teams (linebacker Geno Hayes, cornerback Alan Ball, running back Justin Forsett and defensive tackle Roy Miller) from March 13-15 and then added defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks on April 2.

Marks had a career year and ended up signing a four-year contract extension in December.

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 29
Preseason Power Ranking: 29

Biggest surprise: When the Jaguars signed defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks to a one-year, $1.5 million contract last April, they thought he’d be a good fit in coach Gus Bradley’s system. Turns out he was a perfect fit. Marks plays the three-technique, which means he lines up on the guard’s outside shoulder, and that position is supposed to provide interior pass rush. Marks finished with four sacks, nine quarterback pressures and eight pass breakups -- all numbers that equaled or surpassed the totals from his first four seasons. He seemed to make at least one impactful play every game and he accounted for two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. His play earned him a four-year contract extension as one of the building blocks of the defense.

Biggest disappointment: The Jaguars’ inability to consistently run the ball, especially early in the season, was vexing. The Jaguars switched from a predominantly man-blocking scheme to a zone-blocking scheme, and the offensive line had trouble with the transition. Four of the five starters at the beginning of the season also started in 2011, when Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing. The Jaguars mixed in more man-blocking schemes as the season progressed and things got better, but the problem wasn’t “fixed.” In addition, Jones-Drew clearly was not the same player he was two years ago. He missed all but six games last season with a Lisfranc injury and also battled ankle, knee and hamstring issues this season.

Biggest need: The Jaguars have a pretty long list of needs, but two stand out above all others: quarterback and pass-rusher. Quarterback is the top need because former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert isn’t the answer and neither is Chad Henne, who will be a free agent but wants to return to Jacksonville in 2014. The Jaguars haven’t had a bona fide threat at quarterback since coach Jack Del Rio put Mark Brunell on the bench for Byron Leftwich in 2003. New general manager David Caldwell and Bradley need a player around which to build the franchise, and the Jaguars will have the opportunity to possibly find one when they pick third overall in May’s draft.

Team MVP: The first impulse is to go with middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, whose 161 tackles ranked second in the NFL. He was clearly the team’s best defensive player and arguably the best overall player. However, what Henne did to stabilize the offense earns him MVP honors. Gabbert had played terribly in the first part of the season (seven INTs, one TD) and Henne stepped in and played the most consistent football of his career. He didn’t always light it up and he made some poor decisions and mistakes, but he kept the Jaguars in games in the second half of the season and made enough plays to go 4-4 after the bye. He threw nine touchdown passes -- including the game winner against Cleveland with 40 seconds to play -- and five interceptions over the final five games.

Jags put two on IR, sign a RB

December, 9, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars put receiver Stephen Burton and running back Justin Forsett on Injured Reserve and signed running back Delone Carter on Monday.

Forsett (broken foot) has six carries for 81 yards, and 15 catches for 82 yards in nine games. He was hurt in the Jaguars' victory against Houston on Nov 24.

Forsett signed a two-year contract with the Jaguars in March, but he suffered a sprained toe on his right foot on Aug. 1 in the first live practice period of training camp and missed the rest of camp and all of the preseason. Meanwhile, first-year running back Jordan Todman led the team in rushing in the preseason (223 yards) and earned a bigger role on offense (18 carries for 53 yards in nine games).

Burton has played in just four games this season because of multiple concussions, and has eight receptions for 76 yards

Carter was a fourth-round pick by Indianapolis in 2011 and rushed for 499 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons with the Colts. Indianapolis traded him to Baltimore on Aug. 1, and he hasn't been with a team since the Ravens cut him Aug. 30.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 8

October, 28, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars42-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers:

[+] EnlargeChad Henne & Maurice Jones-Drew
Matt Dunham/AP PhotoJaguars QB Chad Henne hands the ball off to Maurice Jones-Drew, who had his best overall performance of the 2013 season against the 49ers.
Red zone inefficiency: Perhaps the Jaguars’ biggest offensive issue in 2013 is their ineffectiveness in the red zone. They scored just one field goal on three trips inside the red zone on Sunday, turning the ball over twice on downs after an incomplete pass and a 1-yard reception by Maurice Jones-Drew. “Red zone really killed us,” quarterback Chad Henne said. “We moved the ball down the field [and] did a good job. We need to capitalize and score touchdowns.” That’s not out of character for this team, though. The Jaguars have scored only five touchdowns on 21 red zone trips this season. That’s a TD conversion rate of just 23.8 percent. Henne has led the Jaguars to just one touchdown in nine red zone trips in the last three games and is riding a streak of seven consecutive red zone trips without a touchdown. He has thrown incomplete passes, been sacked, and failed to run for what would have been an easy first down in one instance.

Robinson sighting: The Jaguars seem to have settled on having Denard Robinson work at running back. He carried the ball four times for 15 yards, including a 7-yard run; not great production, but solid work. Coach Gus Bradley said they wanted to take a look at Robinson at the spot because he has practiced well enough to move up the depth chart ahead of Jordan Todman and Justin Forsett. The Jaguars drafted Robinson in the fifth round and had hoped to use him as a Wildcat quarterback and receiver to take advantage of his speed and elusiveness, but he has had issues with his hands. Using him as a running back appears to be the best solution.

Slow start: The defense never gave the team a chance on Sunday, giving up touchdowns on the 49ers’ first four possessions. San Francisco drove 76, 49, 57 and 63 yards to take a 28-0 lead in the second quarter and converted all six third-down attempts in those four drives. Sunday’s performance was a continuation of a trend that started against Denver on Oct. 13. The Broncos scored TDs on their first two possessions and San Diego did the same a week later. That’s putting a lot of pressure on an offense that still struggles to run the ball and convert in the red zone.

Mojo improving: Lost in the rout was the fact Jones-Drew had his best game of 2013, rushing for a season-high 75 yards (including a 30-yard run) and catching six passes for 47 yards. Jones-Drew said earlier in the week that the ankle he sprained against Oakland in Week 2 would probably never be 100 percent all year because he keeps playing on it, but it didn’t slow him down against San Francisco. He appears to have some of his old explosiveness back.

Jaguars stat of the week

October, 3, 2013
Every Thursday I’ll present an interesting (to me, anyway) stat, break it down, and try to provide some context heading into the game the following weekend.

Ball security

Jaguars running backs and wide receivers have carried the ball 388 times this season -- including the four preseason games -- without losing a fumble. The only time the Jaguars have lost a fumble came when Denard Robinson was a wildcat quarterback and botched the handoff with Ace Sanders against Seattle.

That is partly because of No Turnover Thursday.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley has different themes for different days: Tell the Truth Monday, Competition Wednesday, No Turnover Thursday, and No Repeat Friday. On Thursday, the emphasis is on -- obviously -- not turning the ball over, and the Jaguars have done a good job with fumbles. They’re one of only eight teams to have lost one or fewer fumbles.

"He stresses it among the team, because that is the most important thing on the football field," running back Justin Forsett said. "It can change games if you give the ball up, so we want to make sure we’re protecting it all the time."

The defense has its role on Thursdays, too.

"It works on both sides," defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "They come down on us about not getting the ball out, which is also a big emphasis on them [the backs and receivers] holding the ball and not letting it go. It helps us on Sunday going after the ball. We get rip attempts. We try to get the ball out every chance that we get. A lot of teams really don’t stress that enough.”

Jordan Todman ready for any role

September, 16, 2013
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jordan Todman was the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive star of the preseason, but so far has made minimal impact in the first two games.

That might have to change this week against the Seattle Seahawks.

Coach Gus Bradley is optimistic Maurice Jones-Drew will be able to fight through a sprained tendon in his left ankle and play against the Seahawks, but if not the team will turn to Todman, rookie Denard Robinson, and veteran Justin Forsett to help the running game.

For Todman, it’s a position in which he never expected to be when he signed with the Jaguars last November.

"You never know how things might pan out," he said Monday. "I’m just going to plan to work hard to the best of my abilities and be ready to go if need be. I obviously wish [Jones-Drew] nothing but the best, and hopefully he’s fine and he’ll go out there and play and start for us this week."

Forsett is a seven-year veteran who has rushed for 1,668 yards and caught 105 passes in his career. Robinson is a fifth-round draft pick whom the team plans on using as a wildcat quarterback, a running back and receiver. Todman wasn’t really even an option when training camp began, but he played so well in the preseason (223 yards) that he earned a spot on the roster.

He has rushed six times for 9 yards and caught three passes for 20 yards in the first two games. He was the first back on the field on third down against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, but Bradley said that doesn’t mean he’s ahead of Forsett on the depth chart. They’ll continue to share work, whether it’s getting carries in place of Jones-Drew or on third down.

"We’re incorporating both of them," Bradley said. "Forsett is probably 95 percent back healthy and so we’re using both of them. But he [Todman] is learning. Usually you don’t have a third-down back as a rookie, and so he’s going through a learning curve back there. That’s why we have Justin back there as well."

Todman said he doesn’t mind sharing playing time, especially since he knows what it’s like to wallow on the practice squad and not get an opportunity to be on the field at all.

"We all are good caliber backs and we all have our things that we do," he said. "Any time they tell me to go in I just know I’ve got to be ready. At any time it could be Justin. At any time it could be me. At any time it could be Mojo."
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Observed in the locker room after the Jacksonville Jaguars' 19-9 loss to the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum on Sunday:

Ground up: Oakland ran for 226 yards, including 129 from Darren McFadden. That's a big reason the Raiders controlled the ball for more than 10 minutes in the third quarter. "[That] is something that we cannot have if we want to move forward and become the type of team that we want to become," linebacker Paul Posluszny said.

More work for Todman: The Jaguars signed Justin Forsett to be a third-down, change-of-pace back. But it was first-year player Jordan Todman who was out there in that role early in the game. "We just tried to get some speed out there," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. Todman ended up with five carries for 7 yards. He was targeted twice but did not catch a pass. Forsett caught one pass for 7 yards.

Hand it to him: What is it about Jaguars quarterbacks and their right hands? Chad Henne was wearing a bandage on the back of his right hand during his postgame news conference, but he assured everyone the injury wasn't serious. Blaine Gabbert missed Sunday's game because he suffered a cut on the back of his right hand in the season opener against Kansas City.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- A few thoughts on the Jaguars’ 19-9 loss to the Oakland Raiders:

What it means: This was perhaps the Jaguars’ best shot at a victory before the bye week, especially if Maurice Jones-Drew’s ankle injury lingers for more than a week or two. The offense still couldn’t generate any consistency and again really struggled on first down: Nine times through the first three quarters, the Jaguars gained 3 yards or less on first down. But maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the Jaguars didn’t have four starters (quarterback Blaine Gabbert, tight end Marcedes Lewis and receivers Justin Blackmon and Mike Brown) because of injuries or suspension. They also lost Jones-Drew in the second quarter. When an offense is that short-handed, the defense pretty much has to play a perfect game, and the Jaguars aren’t talented enough to do that. It’s unfair to ask them to as well. The result is another game with less than 200 total yards.

Stock watch: It’s unclear just how serious Jones-Drew’s ankle injury is, which means the Jaguars would have to rely on Justin Forsett and first-year player Jordan Todman to carry the running game. Forsett, at least, is a seven-year veteran who has rushed for more than 1,600 yards and caught 100 passes. Todman entered Sunday’s game with just four career carries. This might mean more work for Denard Robinson.

Touchdown skid ends: Chad Henne tossed a touchdown pass to Clay Harbor with three minutes remaining to give the Jaguars their first offensive touchdown since the second quarter of the 2012 season finale against Tennessee.

Penalty problems: The Jaguars committed 10 penalties for 70 yards, including two that allowed Oakland to retain possession. D.J. Williams was offside on a punt on fourth-and-4, and Jason Babin was penalized for illegal use of the hands during a play on which Terrelle Pryor threw incomplete on third-and-9 from the Jacksonville 24-yard line.

What’s next: The Jaguars play at Seattle next Sunday at 4:25 p.m ET.

Jaguars news and notes

September, 9, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Blaine Gabbert news was obviously the most important, but here are some additional tidbits from Gus Bradley’s news conference on Monday.
  • Starting left guard Will Rackley suffered a lateral sprain to his left knee but Bradley said he may be able to practice on Wednesday. It’s the same knee that Rackley injured in the preseason. "We’ll re-evaluate it as it goes the next two days," Bradley said.
  • Bradley said it’s too early to determine if tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf) will be able to play against Oakland on Sunday. "We’ll see how he does the next few days," Bradley said. "We may have a chance to get him back."
  • The Jaguars have received permission from the NFL to bring suspended receiver Justin Blackmon to California with them next week. Blackmon is suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy but a new league rule allows him to attend meetings but not practice. The Jaguars play at Oakland on Sunday and at Seattle on Sept. 22 and are staying in California between the games. They asked the NFL to allow Blackmon to travel to the West Coast and be with the team. He will fly to California on Sunday night or Monday morning and return to Jacksonville when the Jaguars depart for Seattle.
  • Justin Forsett has played in 76 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak by a running back in the NFL. Forsett missed all of the preseason with a toe injury but was healthy enough to play in the season opener against Kansas City. "I’m trying to catch Brett Favre," joked Forsett, who caught a team-high four passes for 22 yards and ran once for 7 yards against the Chiefs. It’s not exactly the same streak, though, because Favre set the NFL record for consecutive starts at 297 games.
  • Bradley wants his players to celebrate more -- not that they had many reasons to last Sunday. "I would love to see our guys have more excitement on the field and more enthusiasm," Bradley said. "When a big play is made, a critical play, I would like to see them share that celebration with their teammates. Something simple as going up there and patting them on the head or whatever the case is to show that emotion. But I think right now our guys are more, ‘I’m going to do my job, take care of my responsibility, and if I do that right that’s good.'"

Jaguars stat of the week

September, 5, 2013
Every Thursday I’ll present an interesting (to me, anyway) stat, break it down, and try to provide some context heading into the game the following weekend.

Rushing to judgment

The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off the worst season in terms of rushing production in team history. The team set franchise lows in total rushing yards (1,369), average yards per game (85.6) and rushing touchdowns (five). Only the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders had fewer rushing TDs (four). Obviously that was because Maurice Jones-Drew missed most of the season with a Lisfranc injury.

The ground game should be significantly better this season, and not just because Jones-Drew is healthy again. The Jaguars have the most depth in their backfield since Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor shared carries in 2008. The team signed unrestricted free agent Justin Forsett in March to be Jones-Drew’s primary backup and a change-of-pace option. Forsett has rushed for 1,661 yards and eight touchdowns, and caught 100 passes for 768 yards and one touchdown and worked as a kickoff and punt returner in five seasons with Seattle, Indianapolis and Houston.

Though Forsett missed all of camp with a toe injury, he is expected to play on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Fifth-round draft pick Denard Robinson will get work as a running back and wildcat quarterback. He was a quarterback for much of his career at Michigan and holds the NCAA record for most rushing yards by quarterback (4,495), as well as the single-season record for rushing yards by quarterback (1,702).

One of the surprises of the preseason was first-year player Jordan Todman, who was the Jaguars’ leading rusher (223 yards). He’ll play mainly on special teams, but also will get work in the backfield.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It appears Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert is on pace to start Sunday’s season opener against Kansas City.

Gabbert suffered a hairline fracture of his right thumb in the Jaguars’ third preseason game on Aug. 24 and had not practiced since. He was nearly a full participant in individual drills on Monday. He did not take snaps under center or in the shotgun but did throw. He was wearing a small wrap on his hand.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said last week that Gabbert was to begin gripping a football late in the week and start throwing over the weekend. Bradley is scheduled to speak to the media at 12:50 p.m. and will provide an official update.

Two other starters -- guard Will Rackley (ankle) and defensive end Jeremy Mincey (allergic reaction) -- did not practice. Running back Justin Forsett, who hasn't practiced since a toe injury during the first live period of training camp, was back on the field and practicing.

Three takeaways: Jaguars-Falcons

August, 30, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Three things that stood out in the Jacksonville Jaguars20-16 victory over Atlanta on Thursday night:

1. Running back Jordan Todman showed again not only why he deserves to make the team but to probably be No. 2 on the depth chart behind Maurice Jones-Drew. The former UConn standout ran for 60 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, giving him a team-high 223 yards on 29 carries in the preseason.

Todman, who scored on an 18-yard run against the Falcons in the first quarter, is a patient runner who quickly gets north and south when he makes a decision. He has been the offense’s best player throughout the preseason.

The Jaguars signed Justin Forsett to be the top option behind Jones-Drew, but he has yet to play this preseason because of a sprained toe on his right foot. He hasn’t even practiced since he suffered the injury during the first live period of training camp.

Forsett is hoping for a Week 1 return, but even if he does, Todman has been so impressive that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get more work.

2. Cornerback Demetrius McCray had his best game of the preseason: five tackles, two pass breakups and a sack. One of those tackles came with a group of other defenders on a fourth-down stop inside the 5-yard line to preserve the victory.

The Jaguars drafted McCray with their second pick in the seventh round of this year's draft. He’s a bigger corner (6-foot, 185 pounds) and plays the physical style coach Gus Bradley wants out of his corners.

McCray had been having a relatively anonymous preseason (just two tackles), but he solidified his spot on the roster with his performance against the Falcons. He jarred a pass loose from receiver Kevin Cone and then made a leaping deflection of another pass to Cone in the first half. He also made a solid open-field tackle on fullback Jason Snelling on a screen pass.

3. Quarterback Matt Scott did some nice things, but they were wiped out by two terrible plays: a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and an interception on back-to-back series in the second quarter.

Scott’s first turnover came when he failed to secure the ball when he turned on a bootleg and was confronted by defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi, who poked the ball free and returned it for a 9-yard touchdown. It’s not an unusual occurrence for a quarterback to whip around into the bootleg after the fake and see a defender in his face. Sometimes the smartest thing a quarterback can do is realize the play has been blown up and just secure the ball and keep the negative play from becoming even worse.

On the interception, Scott stared down intended receiver Mike Brown, and cornerback Desmond Trufant, the Falcons’ first-round draft pick, stepped in front of the pass. There may have been some miscommunication on the route, but it was an easy interception for Trufant.

Scott was battling Mike Kafka for the No. 3 quarterback spot. Scott completed 6 of 12 passes for 67 yards. Kafka completed 6 of 15 passes for 46 yards, but he did hook up with Jeremy Ebert on a 13-yard touchdown pass that put the Jaguars ahead for good.