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Jaguars 2013 OTAs: Forsett working to be ready

Posted Jun 6, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Justin Forsett: The timing is right for me to have a breakout year, and that’s what I’m expecting.”

JACKSONVILLE – Justin Forsett isn’t worrying about what might happen.

The “mights” of his current situation, and the exact nature of his role in the immediate future, Forsett said he can’t control that. That’s why the veteran running back is doing what he is doing during Jaguars 2013 organized team activities.

He’s working to continue learning the offense.

He’s working to continue improving in the Jaguars’ new zone-blocking scheme.

He’s working to be ready to be the No. 1 guy – if that would happen to be necessary.

“This is a chance for me to get into a rhythm, for me to get in sync with what we’re doing on offense,” Forsett said Thursday following a rain-soaked 2013 OTA practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields outside EverBank Field.

“It’s a chance for me to get time with the quarterbacks, with Blaine (Gabbert) and Chad (Henne) in there. It takes repetitions, so it (this OTA period) has been important for me.”

Just how important is Forsett’s work for the Jaguars? Just how big will his role be next season?

That remains to be seen.

Maurice Jones-Drew, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and the NFL’s leading rusher in 2011, has not participated in OTAs this offseason. He spent the first five weeks of the offseason program in Jacksonville with the team, but is now training in Miami, rehabilitating a foot injury that kept him out the last 10 games of last season.

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said this week it’s his understanding that process is going well and that Jones-Drew – who is expected to attend next week’s minicamp in Jacksonville – is working toward playing shape.

Forsett said he’s not thinking much about Jones-Drew’s status.

“I’m prepared for anything,” Forsett said. “I go out every day as if I’m the No. 1 guy. If I train that way and I work that way and something happens where Maurice comes back and he’s the No. 1 guy, then fine – I still have that experience. I still get those reps.”

Forsett said he’s confident he can perform as a feature back for several reasons. One, he has experience playing in a zone-blocking scheme. He played in the scheme in Seattle from 2008-2011, then again in Houston this past season.

“I feel very comfortable with it,” he said.

Forsett also said he does have experience in a feature role.

Forsett, a seventh-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft by Seattle, was waived early that season by Seattle, spending a month with the Indianapolis Colts before returning to Seattle as the team’s return specialist. He was the Seahawks’ feature back briefly in 2009, rushing for 619 yards and four touchdowns on 114 carries that season. He then rushed for 523 yards and two touchdowns on 118 carries the following season, starting seven games from 2009-2010.

“In my third year (2010), before the trade for Marshawn (Lynch), I was the starting running back,” he said. “I was the guy. I did well then, and I feel like given the opportunity, I’ve done nothing but make the best of it. I think the same way here now. I feel better. I feel faster. I feel strong. I’m feeling good about this year.”

Forsett said whatever his eventual role – and however the offseason and regular season play out – the timing and circumstances are right for him in Jacksonville.

He knew Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley from their time in Seattle (Bradley was the defensive coordinator in Seattle from 2009-2012), and knew Jaguars Offensive Coordinator Jedd Fisch from the latter’s season as the Seahawks’ quarterbacks coach in 2010.

Forsett feels like he is a fit in Jacksonville partly because he feels like the coaches know him and understand what he brings to the situation.

“Coming here, it’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I know the coaching staff. I know the scheme. The timing is right for me to have a breakout year, and that’s what I’m expecting.”

Forsett rushed for 374 yards and a touchdown on 63 carries in a backup role for Houston last season, and for his career, he has 1,661 yards and eight touchdowns rushing. Those aren’t Jones-Drew-type statistics, and Forsett at 5-feet-8, 194 pounds is a different sort of back than the player who set a franchise record with 1,606 bruising yards two years ago.

But just as Forsett isn’t thinking much about Jones-Drew’s status, he also isn’t trying to emulate his style. He said he brings his own style, and said he believes his approach will be productive when needed – in whatever circumstance necessary.

“I am confident,” he said. “I’m blessed that I’ve never missed a game. I’ve never been a 200-carry guy, but when I wasn’t on offense, I was down there wedge-busting – when there were four people down in the wedge. I was doing the dirty work, so I feel confident I can withstand anything.”

He’s just not worrying about what he will have to withstand, or the exact nature of his role in the near future. Not when there’s plenty to work on in the present.

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