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Jaguars want better ground game
to take burden off Blake Bortles

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's going to be tough for Blake Bortles to duplicate the record-setting season he just finished.

The Jacksonville Jaguars don't really want him to, though.

Bortles set single-season franchise records in attempts (606), completions (355), passing yards (4,428) and passing touchdowns (35) in just his second season in the NFL. Ideally, though, Bortles won't be throwing the ball that much in the future because the Jaguars are planning on the ground game improving.

That means more work for T.J. Yeldon and less attempts -- theoretically, anyway -- for Bortles.

“I think we’d like to get our run game going and I think that’s very beneficial for us as a team as far as how we want to continue to go forward," coach Gus Bradley said Thursday at the NFL combine. "I do think it takes some off his [Bortles'] plate. It’ll only make him better.

"If you can get the run game going hopefully it’ll even benefit him more.”

The Jaguars' run game hasn't gone anywhere in the last four seasons. Since finishing 12th in the NFL in rushing in 2011 (123.1 yards per game) -- the season Maurice Jones-Drew led the league with 1,606 yards -- the Jaguars haven't finished higher than 21st. They've averaged more than 100 yards per game rushing just once in that span (102.1, good enough for 21st in 2014).

Last season the Jaguars averaged 92.1 yards per game and ran for only five touchdowns -- tied for the second fewest in the league with Cleveland and the New York Giants. San Diego had the fewest rushing touchdowns (four).

Yeldon ran for 740 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie and didn't get much help. Denard Robinson, the team’s leading rusher in 2014, battled a sprained MCL early in the 2015 season and had ball-security issues at the end of the season, fumbling four times in three games. Toby Gerhart got only 20 carries because of a sports hernia that eventually required surgery in early December.

"We’d like to spread it out a little bit more just to keep the guys fresh," Bradley said.