Toby Gerhart returns to practice

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Toby Gerhart is finally ready to make his debut as the Jacksonville Jaguars' featured back.

Gerhart, who has been battling a strained hip flexor for the past two weeks, practiced on Tuesday with the rest of the team in helmets and shoulder pads and said he's looking forward to playing in the Jaguars' second preseason game, Thursday night against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

"Looking forward to it," Gerhart said. "A fun field to play at. But I'm more excited about taking the field with the Jaguars for the first time."

Gerhart hadn't practiced since July 31 and missed the team's scrimmage and first preseason game. He has been testing his hip for almost a week in workouts off to the side during practice and said each day it has felt better.

"I've been running four or five days straight now, and each day coming in and taking stock of how it's feeling," Gerhart said. "It's been feeling good, so I don't expect it to feel any worse tomorrow."

Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said the staff is supposed to meet Tuesday night to determine how many reps players will get.

"I'd like to see Toby run the ball a little bit," said Fisch, who added that five or six carries is a good range.

Gerhart signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Jaguars in March to replace Maurice Jones-Drew as the team's top running back. He spent the first four years of his career backing up Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, rushing for 1,305 yards and five touchdowns on 276 carries along with 77 catches for 600 yards and three touchdowns.