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Camp Battle 2009: Running Backs

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Since Maurice Jones-Drew was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he has been used in a two back system with Fred Taylor. The system was seen as a win-win as it kept Drew from taking excessive punishment and allowed Taylor to stay fresh throughout the season. Now that Fred Taylor is with the New England Patriots and Jones-Drew signed a massive contract extension, it is expected Jones-Drew will be the feature back for the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, the main questions fans have been asking is, can he take the grind of being a full time running back.

Here is a look at Jones-Drew's production since becoming a Jaguar.

Rushing Attempts Yards Touchdowns Receptions Yards Touchdowns Total Touches Yards Touchdowns
2006 166 824 12 46 436 2 212 1260 14
2007 167 728 9 40 407 0 207 1135 9
2008 197 941 13 62 565 2 259 1506 15
Career 540 2533 34 148 1408 4 688 3941 38

Last year was Jones-Drew's best year statistically. However, it still pales in comparison to the type of touches he'll be expected to have as the feature back. Jones-Drew's 197 carries in 2008 was good enough for 25th in the NFL. With the contract Jones-Drew signed in the off-season, it seems to be expected he'll easily eclipse that mark this season. So then, in this era of two back backfields, is there another small back that carried the load for their team? Yes, and it was in our own division.

Steve Slaton was 10th in the NFL with 268 carries. Slaton also had 50 receptions while being the feature back for the Houston Texans. Slaton is 5'9 215lbs, a build close enough to Jones-Drew's. I expect MJD's numbers to look similar in terms of carries and receptions as Slaton's 2008 campaign.

MJD is not going to be a 300-350 carry a year back in the NFL. As much as we all love Pocket Hercules, I think that might be asking too much of him. So then, who is there to help the load for Jones-Drew?

Greg Jones

Jones has carved out a niche as one of the best fullbacks in the league, despite being a converted running back. Jones was a monster at Florida State, when healthy. Jones hasn't seen the ball as much since becoming a Pro, thanks in part to having Taylor and MJD on the roster. Expect Jones to see his carries increase this year, especially in short yardage situations. Touchdown vulture for someone's fantasy team?

Alvin Pearman

Pearman was resigned by the Jaguars last season after being traded to Seattle. Pearman is purely a third down back that provides very little upside compared to others on the roster. Unless either he excels at the third down back role or on special teams, Pearman will be looking for another team this fall.

Chauncey Washington

Washington is another player that is going to have to prove himself in training camp. Washington had a checkered past at USC and saw limited action his rookie season.

Rashad Jennings

Jennings comes to the Jaguars out of Liberty University. Jennings has potential, as evidenced in his lone season at the Divsion I-A level. He is a feel good story that will have the entire Jaguars fan base rooting for him. However, he is more than that. Jennings is a power back that has looked good so far in the Underwear league. Time will tell if he'll add his name to the list of late round running back finds.

-John