Jaguars' OC unsure of Jones-Drew's 2013 workload

7/16/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

For years, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew was given one of the heavier workloads in the NFL. From 2009-2011, MJD averaged a hefty 318 carries per season, also adding 43.3 catches per year - that adds up to a whopping 361.3 offensive touches on average.
Jun 11, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew walks off the field after a minicamp at the Florida Blue Health & Wellness Practice Fields. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
The heavy workload caught up to Jones Drew in 2012, however, as he suffered a season ending foot injury just six games into the season. The injury was of the dreaded Lisfranc variety and required surgery, from which Jones-Drew is now eight months removed. The hope is that his foot will be ready to go by the time training camp starts up (July 26), and running backs coach Terry Richardson has "faith and confidence" that his lead back will be ready.

Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, however, is unsure of just how much pressure Jones-Drew's injured foot can handle. "We have to make sure he can [not just] plant off his foot, but be tackled on his foot and be able to bounce right back up and be able to withstand a lot of carries," Fisch said. "When we start seeing those things, we'll have a better feel of what type of guy he can be."

The Jaguars will want to test out that foot during training camp, but may give Jones-Drew some looks in preseason action as well. MJD could be in for an atypical amount of touches during preseason, as he has carried the ball only 42 times over the past five preseasons (8.4 carries per year). However, the Jaguars would be wise to ease Jones-Drew back into a full workload so that they can make sure he can handle the rigors of full-speed, live-action NFL football.

There is a pretty solid chance that Jones-Drew doesn't reach his usual mark of 300 carries this season, which means more work for his backups. Justin Forsett, a newcomer to Jacksonville, is currently listed as the No. 2 runner behind MJD. Fisch has ties to Forsett from their days with the Seattle Seahawks, and the sixth-year back could factor quite a bit into the equation if Jones-Drew's workload is limited. Forsett boasts an impressive career average of 4.9 yards per carry.

The third string running back is perhaps the most interesting player on the Jaguars' offense. Denard Robinson was an electrifying college quarterback, but concerns over his arm and size have called for a position change at the next level. Robinson is currently listed as an OW (offensive weapon) on the Jaguars' roster, and while he will likely be used as such, he is also essentially the third string halfback. Robinson's role is likely to get bigger as the season progresses, as he is learning the intricacies of a new position, which takes time. The coaching staff has praised his progress, however, and a significant role could be attainable as a rookie, especially if the team doesn't feel comfortable giving Jones-Drew a big workload.

This is certainly a situation to monitor for those preparing for fantasy football drafts. Jones-Drew is one of the best fantasy backs when on the field, but just how many touches he'll get in 2013 is up in the air. One thing to note is that Jones-Drew is entering the final year of his contract, so the Jaguars may not mind working the 28-year-old back until his engine breaks down.
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