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First off the field: Second chances at running back


JACKSONVILLE – With injury, comes opportunity.

That's an NFL truth, and for the Jaguars' running game this week, injury is bringing a second opportunity a couple of times over.

With Jaguars running back Denard Robinson now out for the season with a foot injury, veteran Toby Gerhart and rookie Storm Johnson should have increased roles at the spot Sunday in Baltimore – and in the final two games of the regular season.

Gerhart likely will start against the Ravens, with Johnson also having a large role and third-team Jordan Todman playing a situational role.

"You can probably anticipate seeing Toby and Storm with Todman mixed in there," Head Coach Gus Bradley said Thursday as the Jaguars (2-11) prepared to play the Baltimore Ravens (8-5) at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, Sunday at 1 p.m. "I would anticipate seeing all three of them."

Gerhart practiced full Thursday after practicing limited with an ankle injury Wednesday.

"It's an opportunity – I haven't had a chance to do that in a while," Gerhart said of starting Sunday. "I'm looking forward to it. We're playing against a physical team and excited for the opportunity."

Gerhart, signed as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, sustained a foot/ankle injury in the regular-season opener against Philadelphia, and has dealt with the injury through much of a season that began with him starting five games before being inactive Weeks 6 and 7.

"It's gotten so much better than it was," Gerhart said. "You can still feel it slightly. I'll deal with it the rest of the year, and I don't think it's affecting me too much at this point."

Since returning in Week 8, Gerhart has backed up Robinson, who took over as the starter Week 7 and held the job after that.

Gerhart has rushed for a 211 yards and a touchdown on 73 carries this season, rushing 14 times for 57 yards in the last three games.

"The last few weeks it's been short-yardage, goal-line, four-minutes – and an occasional opportunity when Denard was tired," Gerhart said. "This will be an opportunity, hopefully, to get in the flow of the game a little bit. Rhythm's nice. You can wear down a defense."

Johnson, a seventh-round selection from the University of Central Florida, has rushed for 64 yards on 20 carries this season while being active in three games. He rushed for 21 yards on 10 carries in his lone start of the season at Tennessee.

"I'm excited about the opportunity," Johnson said. "I would never say it didn't go as I wanted. I got my chance. I did what I could in my time to do it. This time I'm going to do the same thing and try to do more than I did last time."

Also around the Jaguars Thursday:

*Defensive end Andre Branch missed a second consecutive day with a groin injury that kept him out of Sunday's loss to Houston. Branch reinjured the groin on November 30 against the New York Giants after missing the previous four games with the issue. Bradley on Thursday said the team has not discussed placing Branch on the season-ending injured reserve list. "We have had no conversation about that – I think just because he's making progress," Bradley said. …

*Bradley said the Jaguars could elevate a practice squad player to take the place of Robinson on the roster. That likely will happen before the end of the week and could be Henry Josey, a rookie running back from the University of Mississippi. "At this point, if you can reward guys like that who have performed … that's one thing (General Manager) Dave (Caldwell) and I have talked about," Bradley said. Robinson likely will be placed on season-ending injured reserve this week. …

*Defensive end Chris Clemons (knee) missed practice. That has been the norm this season, with Clemons getting a veteran's day off to rest on Thursdays. Linebacker Geno Hayes also missed practice with a veteran day off Thursday. …

*Linebacker Khairi Fortt (hamstring) missed practice for a second consecutive day after missing Sunday's loss to Houston. …

*Wide receiver Tommy Streeter (abdominal) worked full Thursday after practicing limited Wednesday, while quarterback Blake Bortles (right shoulder), safety Josh Evans (finger) and linebacker J.T. Thomas (ankle) all worked full for a second consecutive day. …

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