JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to make Toby Gerhart their workhorse back, possibly giving him 20-plus touches a game. But he can’t be on the field for every play, and that’s when Jordan Todman is expected to take over.
The third-year player from Connecticut has quietly had a good start to training camp. During Wednesday morning's full-pads practice he broke a couple runs, including one in which he accelerated past linebacker Nate Stupar to break free into the secondary. He has made plays like that throughout camp and appears, right now at least, to have a solid hold on the No. 2 spot behind Gerhart.
"You’re seeing him break some," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "The other day he had one where he broke and you saw him accelerate. Today he had another one, and I think that’s what we’re counting on him for -- to give that change-up, that burst that we know he has."
The Jaguars need a change-of-pace back to complement the 6-foot, 235-pound Gerhart, who is a physical, downhill runner who should spend most of his time between the tackles. Having someone who is quicker and can get the edge gives the Jaguars an inside-outside running game.
The 5-10, 198-pound Todman says it feels like he’s even quicker and faster this year because he’s more at ease in his second year in the offense.
"Size isn’t my weapon. It’s my speed," he said. "I feel like I’ve always played full-speed, but more importantly this camp I feel like I’ve been moving and am comfortable at a high level."
Todman was the top backup to Maurice Jones-Drew last season, carrying the ball 76 times for 256 yards and two touchdowns and catching 14 passes for 116 yards and another score. He started against Buffalo because Jones-Drew was hurt and ran for 109 yards on 25 carries.
That gave him somewhat of an edge over second-year player Denard Robinson and seventh-round draft pick Storm Johnson heading into camp, but the competition to be Gerhart’s top backup was wide open. Though Robinson’s ball skills have improved significantly because the nerve damage in his hand has healed and Johnson looked good in organized team activities and minicamp, Todman is still ahead on the depth chart.
He also wants to return kickoffs again. He was seventh in the NFL in kickoff return average in 2013 (27.4 yards per return).
"I love it," Todman said. "I felt like I did okay last year. There’s some returns I wish I could take back, but hopefully this year I’ll be able to get one to the house."