JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley has said several times that the team could keep five running backs on the 53-man roster.
T.J. Yeldon, Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart are the top three backs, but Bernard Pierce is making a pretty strong push to not only earn playing time but be a main piece of the running back rotation.
"His toughness and his work ethic and mentality I think has been great," Bradley said. "It's been great for that running back room. He's been a great teammate on offense and in that room, and his leadership [has been good].
"I didn't know much about him [when the Jaguars claimed him in March]. I heard good things but it's been even better."
Pierce has had a good camp and then followed it with a strong performance in the Jaguars' 23-21 victory over Pittsburgh last Friday. He ran five times for 15 yards and caught three passes for 22 yards. He had one drop but he also had one of the highlights of the night when he hurdled potential tackler B.W. Webb.
"My mindset is by any means necessary," Pierce said.
That's a good approach because this could be Pierce's final chance to prove he's still able to help a team. Pierce had his best season with the Ravens as a rookie in 2012, when he rushed for 532 yards to help the team win the Super Bowl. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry during the regular season and topped that in the playoffs, averaging 5.2 yards in four games. He ran for 202 yards on 39 carries, including 103 yards in a wild-card victory over Indianapolis.
Since then, however, he has struggled because of inconsistency and a long list of injuries: back, ankle, knee, shoulder, thigh, toe and concussion. Then, Pierce was released by the Ravens hours after his arrest on DUI charges in March, and the Jaguars claimed him the following day.
Now he has a fresh start -- on and off the field -- in Jacksonville.
"That's life," Pierce said. "Things happen, like [in] football [a] sudden change. It was an adjustment. I regret the decision that was made, but at the end of the day I've kept high hopes and high spirit and fortunately got picked up by another team."
He's got a chance to make an impact with the Jaguars. Barring an injury, he'll make the 53-man roster but it'll be interesting to see where he fits. The Jaguars consider Yeldon an every-down back (though they're going to ease him into that role). Robinson is a change-of-pace back and Gerhart is their main third-down back because of his ability to pass block and catch the ball out of the backfield. Plus, the new offensive system that features inside zone runs is a good fit for him.
Pierce can be used as an every-down back and a third-down back, so that gives the Jaguars options in terms of how they want to use him.
"Honestly, I have not thought of my role," he said. "I don't try to think of things that I can't control. I just let my play do the talking for me and sooner or later everything will just play itself out. I try not to stress myself with the extra thing."