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Gus Bradley says running back position is an open competition

The Jaguars entered the 2014 season with Toby Gerhart as the sure starter, but five weeks in head coach Gus Bradley agrees that the running back position is an open competition.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said in March that he hoped free agent signee Toby Gerhart could be the "bell cow" back, meaning he'd carry the load and get a significant number of touches each game.

After five weeks where the running game has shown few signs of life, Bradley is backing off those words.

In a Monday afternoon press conference, Bradley was asked if the running back position was an open competition. His response?

"Yeah I would say. How can you argue the fact that Storm and the little plays that he had that he showed up and did some good things? It’s not surprising to me, I mentioned two weeks ago he had a good practice, last week he had a good week and it’s that trust and he’s building trust. For him to go in there and perform and really capture his opportunity was pretty cool to see. Then he came out, he hurt his ankle so I think with Storm it’s that process where he’s continuing to build trust with his teammates. But the runs he had were very impressive."

If you watched the game, you could see that Johnson not only belonged in the stable of backs, but that he was the most effective runner in the few carries he got before injuring his ankle. He looked to have a great balance of strength and quickness, especially in these two plays in the fourth quarter.

The first, a 20-yard run, was the longest by a Jaguars running back since Week 15 of the 2013 season.

The second, a six-yard run, showed incredible vision and that he has a burst to get into the open lane.

And look at what good running sets up.

Let's hope Johnson's ankle injury doesn't keep him out long. Jaguars running backs are averaging just 3.0 yards per carry and 16 rushes per game. Improvements in both of those will open up the passing game and help the offense become more balanced.