JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon unlikely to play in Sunday’s season finale at Houston because of a sprained MCL, recently-signed running back Jonas Gray is going to get some additional work.
Denard Robinson has started in Yeldon’s place the past two weeks and has 145 yards of total offense in those games, but he has averaged only 2.4 yards per carry and has fumbled three times. Robinson is likely to still start against the Texans, but offensive coordinator Greg Olson says he wants to take a longer look at what Gray can do after he got his first carries with the Jaguars against New Orleans last Sunday.
"It was good to see Jonas get some carries," Olson said. "We’ll try to find out more about him in this finale, but I have a good feel for Denard right now and where he’s at. Toby [Gerhart] has gone on IR, so we’ll see how he comes out of that [sports hernia] surgery, but I have a pretty good feel for T.J. and Denard and trying to get a better feel for Jonas this week."
The Jaguars signed Gray from Miami’s practice squad on Dec. 15, but he didn’t play against Atlanta. He ran for 31 yards on five carries and also had a 25-yard run called back because of penalty against the Saints.
"I think the best thing for me was that I’ve been a few places, and some of it had some carryover so I was able to learn [the offense]," Gray said. "Not very fast, but through the first week I was here I was able to put together a lot of concepts and the next week coaches did a good job of putting together a game plan for me and a group of plays they knew I could run well. Just went out and executed."
Gray is under contract with the Jaguars for 2016 as well, so Sunday’s game will give the staff a chance to see where he may begin to fit in the offense. Bernard Pierce, who is on IR with a calf injury, will be a free agent. Gerhart (IR/sports hernia), Corey Grant (IR/hip) and Joe Banyard are the other backs on the roster under contract for 2016, in addition to Yeldon and Robinson.
Gray, a second-year player from Notre Dame, ran for 534 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games with New England and Miami. Nearly half of that total came against Indianapolis while he was with the Patriots in 2014. Gray ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns in New England's 42-20 victory. However, Gray overslept and missed a practice five days later and carried the ball just 20 more times that season.
The Patriots cut Gray in September and Miami signed him four days later. The Dolphins cut him Nov. 10 and signed him to the practice squad two days later, and the Jaguars signed him after Yeldon suffered the sprained MCL against Indianapolis.
It’s been a hectic two months for Gray but he said he’s eager to get some more work, especially since he didn’t have a carry or reception this season until last week.
"You get one guaranteed game for the rest of 2015, so kind of try to make the most of it," Gray said. "Have it be a memorable experience for the coaches to go into the offseason feeling good about what I can do and me feeling good about the way I ended the year, so I’m excited about it."