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Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Gerhart has key traits Jaguars needed

By Michael DiRocco

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Toby Gerhart is exactly what the Jaguars were looking for in a running back.

He’s young, turning 27 years old later this month.

Gerhart
He’s got low mileage, with only 374 touches (276 carries, 77 catches, 21 returns) in five seasons with Minnesota.

And he’s durable, missing just three games in his career and only two in the past three.

At 6-foot and 231 pounds, Gerhart is a physical, between-the-tackles runner who can give the Jaguars positive yardage on first down. That’s where the running game was particularly ineffective, averaging just 3.4 yards per rush on first down. That was the third-lowest total in the league.

Gerhart averages 4.7 yards per carry in his career and averaged a career-high 7.9 yards per rush in 2013 working behind Adrian Peterson. He has rushed for 1,305 yards and five touchdowns on 266 carries and has never had more than 109 carries in a single season.

He’s not necessarily a workhorse back, although that’s what he was at Stanford, but he’ll be the main part of a rotation that includes second-year backs Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson and fourth-year back Delone Carter.

The addition of Gerhart, who according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport agreed to a three-year deal with $10.5 million ($4.5 million guaranteed), doesn’t necessarily close the door on Maurice Jones-Drew’s return. The team is still interested in bringing him back, but it obviously would be in a role in which he gets significantly fewer carries than he has since he became the team’s feature back in 2009.

Since then he’s had at least 234 carries in all but one season (he had 86 before missing the final 10 games in 2012) and has had 299 or more three times.

Jones-Drew shared carries with Fred Taylor during his first three seasons so it’s not a situation he’s unfamiliar with, but his return would depend on whether he’d be willing to do it again. Jones-Drew also is seeking at least a three-year contract and that’s something the Jaguars may be hesitant to do.