While Leonard Fournette is the bell cow running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars, T.J. Yeldon may have proven to be an admirable No. 2 back for the team. Yesterday, Yeldon had an impressive outing against the vaunted Minnesota Vikings defense.
Yeldon played 30 percent of the offensive snaps, receiving 15 total touches on 24 plays (including with the first-team offense). He led the Jaguars with 39 rushing yards on 10 carries, and also led the receiving game with five catches for 73 yards. Yeldon was targeted six times total.
The fourth-year back gashed the Vikings in the screen game, including a well-executed 29-yard screen pass that took the offense inside the five-yard line. Yeldon displayed good vision and shiftiness on the play.
Red light.— NFL (@NFL) August 18, 2018
GREEN LIGHT! @T_Yeldon hits 'em with the stop-and-go move.
: @NFLNetwork #JAXvsMIN pic.twitter.com/GKeQZ5CCa3
The screen game proved effective for Jacksonville, as Nathaniel Hackett took advantage of Minnesota’s aggressive defense. The Vikings were gouged by the quick passes.
Yeldon also ran the ball hard, with a good burst. He didn’t seem to shy away from contact or make bad reads (scroll to the 3:04 mark if it does not automatically take you there).
While he may have never turned into the starting running back the Jaguars wanted him to be after using a second-round draft pick in 2015, Yeldon should be able to be a serviceable No. 2 back behind Fournette. He has always been highly-regarded in pass protection, and his ability to catch the ball and make people miss in the open field makes him an ideal third-down back.
Yeldon has struggled with consistency throughout his career. He has never played in all 16 games or scored more than a combined three touchdowns in a single season. However, he did average 5.2 yards per carry on limited touches in 2017. He also made a couple of nice plays during the playoff run.
If he can continue this momentum, I see no reason why he won’t be a nice complement to Fournette during the 2018 season.