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Toby Gerhart frustrated with his injury, hopes to return to Jaguars in 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- By Toby Gerhart’s count, he has been healthy for only three games in his two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

None were this season.

The abdominal injury he suffered during the preseason eventually transformed into a sports hernia that made it hard for him to contribute much on the field, which is why he and the team decided he needed to go on IR and have surgery to repair the damage. That will happen on Thursday in Philadelphia with core muscle specialist William C. Meyers.

Gerhart said the recovery and rehab period will be roughly six weeks, so he will be completely healthy in time for the start of the offseason conditioning program in April.

He hopes it’s in Jacksonville.

Because he’s rarely been healthy during his two seasons with the Jaguars, he’s not sure if he will be back to finish out the final year of the three-year, $10.5 million contract he signed in March 2014. He’s due a $500,000 roster bonus in March and is scheduled to make $3 million in 2016.

"It’s frustrating and difficult not to think about your future," Gerhart told ESPN. "But I’m not a GM and I’ll let the media speculate what’s going to happen but I think when I am healthy -- [like] this year in the summer and training camp and the first two preseason games -- I think they know what I can do. I think I was going to have a big role with this offense this year and getting hurt threw a wrench in that, so hopefully I’m back.

"I want to be back here, and I’ll be back better than ever after I get fixed Thursday."

Gerhart has 20 carries for 44 yards this season and 121 carries for 370 yards and two touchdowns in 21 games with the Jaguars. He has battled injuries to his foot, ribs and core and they will cost him 11 out of a possible 32 games.

Gerhart's struggles began when he hurt his foot when he was brought down by a horse-collar tackle in the 2014 season opener against Philadelphia. He didn’t miss any time in the next three games, but he re-injured the foot in the Jaguars' loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 4 and he sat out the Tennessee and Cleveland games.

He started to hit his stride after the bye week, rushing for 111 yards and averaging 4.1 yards per carry. That was significantly higher than it was in the eight games in which he played before the bye week. Gerhart averaged just 2.6 yards per carry in those games.

Gerhart had his best game of the season against Tennessee in Week 16, rushing for 54 yards and a touchdown in the Jaguars’ 21-13 victory, but he left the game in the second half because of a rib injury. That limited him to just four carries for 18 yards in the season finale against Houston.

He was healthy throughout the offseason and looked good during OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the first part of the preseason. Then he strained an abdominal muscle against the New York Giants in the second preseason game and missed the first two games of the regular season.

Gerhart aggravated the injury during practice before the season opener and the injury gradually worsened into a sports hernia. He played with the injury into November and twice made trips to Philadelphia to meet with Meyers and have pain-killing injections.

Last week he was unable to lift his leg while sitting on his bed and that’s when he and the Jaguars agreed he needed to go in IR and have surgery.

"It got to a point where I could hardly do anything and I just really wasn’t helping the team in any way," Gerhart said. "Coming out Monday this past week it was probably the most sore I’ve been. Could barely walk just from running down on special teams.

"It’s hard when you can’t burst, you can’t cut, you can’t even run full speed. It’s frustrating, but I’ve got to get it fixed, get it right, and get ready for next year."