Derrick Wimbush will replace Greg Jones at fullback in Thursday night's preseason finale in Atlanta. Jones is out for the remainder of the season after having torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Saturday night's preseason win over Tampa Bay.
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio confirmed Jones' injury at Monday's press conference. Del Rio also said Wimbush and LaBrandon Toefield are the initial candidates to replace Jones as the team's short-yardage and goal-line running back.
"We're going to determine roles and all of that as we adjust to the situation," Del Rio said.
"He's a great football player. He's my kind of guy. I can't say enough about him. We're going to miss him," a visibly distressed Del Rio said of Jones.
Monday marked one of the most difficult days in Del Rio's four years as the team's coach. The news hit him hard on Sunday when he was told an MRI exam showed Jones had torn his ACL. Jones was showing signs this summer of finally having recovered from the same ACL injury in his right knee at Florida State in the 2002 season.
"Any time you lose a great football player, it hurts. I hurt for him," Del Rio said. "We play in a violent game. Things like this can occur."
Jones' injury occurred when he has hit low by Tampa Bay cornerback Blue Adams in the second half of Saturday night's game. Early reports were that Jones had sustained a sprain of his medial collateral ligament, but the MRI revealed additional damage.
Wimbush is in his second season after having starred in last summer's training camp as an undrafted free agent from Fort Valley State. Wimbush excelled at returning kickoffs last season.
"He's a good football player. He just happens to be from a small college. His role will increase," Del Rio said of Wimbush, who ran 27 yards with a short pass in Saturday night's game, running through defenders with great power.
Toefield had a strong training camp and ran for 24 yards on four carries against Tampa. Ironically, Toefield has overcome ACL surgery on both knees.
"The depth we have gives us a greater sense of security. We're glad to have him," Del Rio said of Toefield, who appeared to be on the bubble as the Jaguars approached final cuts. That's certainly not the case now.
Del Rio said "our starters are going to play very little, if at all," in Atlanta. That could mean starting running back Fred Taylor won't be put at risk. Taylor was the Jaguars' offensive star against Tampa, rushing for 37 yards in nine carries.
"We'll get a great look at bubble players on our squad," Del Rio said of Thursday's preseason finale. "Real soon, we'll start talking about the regular season."
Mike Peterson's original diagnosis of a sprained MCL was confirmed by an MRI. Peterson is on crutches but Del Rio said he hopes to have his starting middle linebacker back for the season opener against Dallas.
Chris Roberson sustained an injury against Tampa that was not thought to be serious but has since been upgraded to season-ending. An MRI revealed a significant shoulder injury that is expected to heal without surgery being performed.
Gerald Sensabaugh (ankle) returned to practice on Monday in a limited capacity. Marcus Stroud (heel) and Marcedes Lewis (ankle) began running on the side and could return to practice by the end of the week.
Nick Sorensen (leg) and Brian Iwuh (hip pointer) practiced on Monday.
Del Rio discussed the 29-18 win over Tampa, which left the Jaguars at 2-1 in the preseason.
"The one positive is the fact we ran the ball well and we stopped the run. As for the other parts of the game, we're working on it," he said.
Ineffectiveness in the passing game continues to trouble the Jaguars. That led to another question about Del Rio's commitment to his young corps of wide receivers.
"I remain committed to the group we have," he said. "We like the guys we have in that locker room."