Jaguars Camp Competition- Running Backs
The competitors: Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings, Deji Karim, Chad Kackert, Greg Jones, Brock Bolen and Montell Owens.
Maurice Jones-Drew will be the Jaguars starting running back, barring any unforeseen injury. There were some questions about Jones-Drew's ability to handle the bulk of the load of carries prior to last season, and MJD answered those questions definitively. 312 carries for 1,391 yards, 15 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 53 passes for 374 yards and a touchdown. This earned Jones-Drew his first Pro Bowl selection.
So how does the rest of the roster play out? That's what gets interesting. Rashad Jennings didn't get a ton of reps as a rookie, but he did average 5.2 yards per carry with a touchdown and caught 16 passes. Jennings will be battling with rookie Deji Karim for the backup running back duties. Deji Karim appears to be a smaller version of Maurice Jones-Drew as he is 5'8" and a shade under 210 lbs. Karim appears to have legitimate explosiveness and could be used in a third-down type of role this season.
The competition at fullback may not be as cut and dry and everyone assumes. Greg Jones is one of the best fullbacks in the league when healthy, but he has missed significant time in three out of the last four seasons. Another thing that's working against Jones is his salary of better than $3 million. Jones is one of the highest paid fullbacks in football and with his injury history and the fact he plays the most non-premium position on offense, Greg Jones may be fighting for his job in camp.
So who could replace Greg Jones? Montell Owens may not have wowed the masses with his running acumen, but he's a fantastic special teams player and that has secured him a roster spot in each of his first four seasons.
Brock Bolen is a player to keep your eye on during camp. Bolen spent much of last season on the Jaguars practice squad before being promoted during the final three weeks of the season. Bolen is more of your classic type of fullback as he stands 6'0", 238 lbs. and always appears ready to put his facemask on someone to clear room for his running back behind him.
What about Chad Kackert? The little known running back from New Hampshire will be fighting for a roster spot, but the odds are clearly stacked against him. Kackert is undersized at 5'9", 199 lbs. and he played at anything but a collegiate powerhouse (UNH). The good news- Montell Owens was in a similar situation four years ago from the same Colonial Athletic Association and he earned a spot as an undrafted rookie and is still on the team.
How will it all shake out? MJD is the starter, but Deji Karim will get reps as a third-down back. Rashad Jennings will make the roster. Montell Owens is the safest of the fullbacks, thanks to his stellar special teams play, and the real roster battle will be between Greg Jones and Brock Bolen. We believe Jones will win out due to his relationship with Jack Del Rio and the fact that Bolen can be stowed away on the practice squad