Day that was: Banged-up backfield

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JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the day that was around EverBank Field Wednesday as the Jaguars prepared to play the Minnesota Vikings – with an eye on the Jaguars' running backs

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BANGED-UP BACKFIELD

The Jaguars want to run and need to run.

How they're going to do that Sunday against one of the NFL's best defenses is a huge issue – and one that has become more pressing considering the Jaguars' injury situation.

All three of the Jaguars' primary running backs appeared on the injury report Wednesday, with Chris Ivory working limited through a hamstring injury and Denard Robinson missing practice with a high-ankle sprain. T.J. Yeldon worked full with an ankle injury.

Ivory worked on the side at times in practice Wednesday, Bradley said.

"That might be up until game time," Head Coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday of Ivory's status as the Jaguars (2-10) began preparing to play the Vikings (6-6) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

Ivory, who has rushed for 350 yards on 93 carries this season, missed this past Sunday's loss to Denver. Robinson, normally the team's third running back, started and rushed for 53 yards on 17 carries before leaving with the sprain.

Yeldon, who leads the Jaguars with 373 yards on 103 carries, has played through the ankle issue the past two weeks. He rushed for 55 yards on 14 carries on Sunday.

The trio has accounted for all but one carry by a Jaguars running back this season, and Bradley said signing a player at the positon is possible later in the week.

"We could," Bradley said.

Second-year veteran Corey Grant is the only running back other than Yeldon/Robinson/Ivory to carry for the Jaguars this season. He rushed one time for two yards Sunday.

"It's a big moment," Grant said of the possibility of his first extensive NFL offensive playing time. "At the same time, it's just football. You've been playing it so long so nothing really changes."

 

SPEAKING CANDIDLY

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown for a third time in four games Sunday. It marked the 11th "pick-six" thrown by Bortles in his career. He has quarterbacked the Jaguars to 10 victories, and the fact that he has more pick-sixes than victories has been a much-discussed topic among observers this week. "Obviously it sucks," Bortles said of the statistic. "It's not, as a quarterback, anything you ever want to be known for or do. But I don't know. I guess I've thrown 11 touchdowns for the wrong team and I've got to try and not do that so much."

GETTING IN SYNC

Bradley Wednesday afternoon discussed a meeting early this week between Bortles and wide receiver Allen Robinson that Bortles described Wednesday as an effort to get "on the same page." Bradley on Monday had said the team needed to examine why Robinson had just three receptions against the Broncos Sunday despite being targeted 10 times. "They're both after the same thing," Bradley said. "They both have high respect for each other. Any time communication takes place and they're trying to figure things out, what they each can do to help each other, it's always good." Robinson has 56 receptions for 622 yards and six touchdowns this season after making the Pro Bowl last season with 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns.

BACK AT IT

Leo defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who left Sunday's loss to Denver with an ankle issue, practiced full on Wednesday. Bortles also practiced full with the shoulder issue through which he has played since a November 20 loss at Detroit.

Leo defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (shoulder) also practiced full Wednesday, as did Yeldon and tight end Neal Sterling (hip).

INJURY UPDATE

Wide receiver Allen Hurns and center Brandon Linder were among six Jaguars players missing practice Wednesday.

Linder missed with an ankle injury after leaving and returning Sunday while Hurns missed with the hamstring injury that kept him out against Denver. Robinson also missed practice Wednesday, as did defensive end Jared Odrick (shoulder), tight end Julius Thomas (back) and cornerback Peyton Thompson (ankle).

Left tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee), Ivory and linebacker Dan Skuta (elbow) worked on a limited basis Wednesday.

QUOTABLE I

"You're always one or two plays away. So each week you prepare as if you're going to play. … This would be a great opportunity – with guys being injured and having my number called – just to step in and help carry the load. Throughout practice we try to keep it game speed at times, so when I get in the game it will be no change."

--Grant

QUOTABLE II

"We don't worry about who our offense is playing. They have to do what they have to do on their side of the ball to score points and move the football. For us, we're challenging [the defense] each and every week. We want to play at a high standard. We're getting closer and closer. At this point in time we want to make sure defensively we understand where we want to get to. We have to make sure that we determine the outcome of the game."

--Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash

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