Aaron Gleeman

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Can the Jags Still Run?

Friday, September 19, 2008


Jacksonville's ground game has been very disappointing through two weeks as Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor have combined for a measly 97 yards on 35 carries. However, it's important to consider that the Jaguars' interior offensive line has been crushed by injuries and they've faced a pair of strong run-stopping defenses in the Titans and Bills.

This week's game is crucial, because on paper at least MJD and Taylor should run wild on the Colts even if their offensive line isn't much healthier. Indianapolis' undersized front line was pushed around by Chicago in Week 1 (39 runs for 183 yards) and Minnesota in Week 2 (35 runs for 180 yards), and the team ranks just 26th in opponent's yards per carry at 4.8 overall.

Plus, the Colts are now without Bob Sanders, a truly elite defender who normally plays a huge part in defending the run from his safety spot. If the Jaguars can't run successfully this week it'll officially be time to worry, but both MJD and Taylor should be in for productive games. Gregg Rosenthal's weekly Goal Line Stand rankings have MJD as RB18 and Taylor as RB31, and that may be conservative.

While the Jaguars try to rediscover the top-three rushing attack that they had in both 2006 and 2007, here are some other notes from around football …

* Adrian Peterson remained in Sunday's game despite taking an ugly looking hit to the back of his leg, racking up 160 yards on 29 carries. However, 118 of those yards came in the first half, leading to speculation that he was at less than full strength after halftime. Those concerns grew louder Thursday when Peterson sat out practice and admitted that his hamstring got "tight" following the hit.

"It's just soreness," Peterson said. "I'm just taking it one day at a time and giving it rest." Coach Brad Childress never reveals much on the injury front because he wants to be like Bill Belichick, but hinted that Peterson could be a game-time decision Sunday. Whatever the case Purple Jesus has zero chance of seeing 34 touches again versus Carolina, so expect increased action for Chester Taylor.

Incidentally, Week 2 was the 16th game of Peterson's career (although just 11 of them are starts). Through his first "full season" he's gained 1,604 yards on 286 rushes (5.6 yards per carry), caught 24 balls for 299 yards, and scored 14 times. Peterson has topped 100 yards eight times while cracking 200 yards twice, and will have a decent passer in the backfield with him Sunday for the first time.

* Frank Gore owners were likely worried about his carries when Mike Martz and his pass-happy offense arrived in San Francisco, but so far at least the marriage has been a good fit. Martz has shown rare commitment to the run game, leading to 42 touches in two games for Gore, yet his reputation as a pass-first offensive coordinator kept the Cardinals and Seahawks from using eight-man fronts.

In fact, the San Francisco Chronicle notes that the 49ers saw an eight-man front just 12 times through two weeks, which is remarkably low for a team with an elite back. Teams will eventually adjust if Martz keeps feeding Gore so often, but he'll be running over extra defensive backs all year. Gore has a great matchup versus Detroit and is my favorite running back option this week with Peterson hurting.

* My weekly live chat was a bust yesterday, as the company that hosts the event had major technical difficulties, leaving thousands of questions unanswered and sadly forcing far too many loyal Rotoworld readers to actually work on Thursday afternoon. Fortunately there's another live chat scheduled for today, so Season Pass subscribers can get answers from Gregg Rosenthal at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Two-Minute Drill: Brandon Marshall could be facing another suspension if found guilty of new misdemeanor battery charges stemming from an incident in March, but there's no reason for his owners to panic given that his trial isn't due to start until at least November … Along with losing third-down snaps in bunches, Larry Johnson is beginning to see some of his goal-line work go elsewhere … Coach Herm Edwards revealed Wednesday that Tyler Thigpen will be on a short leash this week in his first NFL start, adding that Damon Huard "really plays the best" when he comes off the bench … Jeff Garcia is reportedly on the trading block, with Minnesota and Kansas City seemingly the most likely destinations … Coach Romeo Crennel said Thursday that Jerome Harrison will see increased playing time, but without a Jamal Lewis injury he's merely a handcuff … Chansi Stuckey leads Jets receivers in catches and touchdowns through two games, and coach Eric Mangini recently compared him to Deion Branch … Meanwhile, Brad Smith has zero catches after showing some promise as a receiver last season.

Red Zone: Willis McGahee (knee) has been removed from the injury report, but still figures to split Week 3 snaps with Ray RiceLaDainian Tomlinson (toe) sat out his second straight practice Thursday, but continues to insist that he'll suit up this week … Quickly moved atop the depth chart after signing earlier this week, Koren Robinson sat out practice Thursday with knee soreness … Initially absent from the injury report, Jerry Porter's hamstring injury has him back on the list and iffy to make his Jaguars debut this week …. Laurence Maroney (shoulder) and LaMont Jordan (foot) both missed a second straight practice Thursday, leaving Sammy Morris as the likely Week 3 starter and a decent RB3/Flex play … Dallas Clark (knee) is absent from the injury report after sitting out Week 2, which saps much of Anthony Gonzalez's short-term value …Coach Romeo Crennel indicated Thursday that Donte' Stallworth (quadriceps) may be a game-time decision this week, but that seems pretty optimistic after he sat out a second straight practice Thursday … According to coach Jeff Fisher, Vince Young may sit in the coaches' box rather than potentially hearing from fans on the sidelines.


Aaron Gleeman is Rotoworld's senior baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. Also find him at AaronGleeman.com and on Twitter.
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