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Open Locker Room: More waiting for Gerhart, no waiting for Ball


JACKSONVILLE – The wait will last at least another week.

Toby Gerhart hopes that's as long as it will last, and said Friday he believes missing a second consecutive game will give him a real chance to return in a week.

Gerhart, the Jaguars' starting running back in the first five games of the 2014 regular season, on Friday was ruled out of Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns with a foot injury.

It will be the second consecutive game Gerhart has missed.

"It's something that we want to be right," Gerhart said Friday as the Jaguars (0-6) prepared to play the Browns (3-2) at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m. "We don't want it to nag anymore, so we said, 'Let's take a little more time and go from there.'"

Gerhart, who leads the Jaguars with 123 yards rushing on 48 carries, had played through ankle and foot issues since sustaining the injury in the first half of a Week 1 loss at Philadelphia. Gerhart hasn't practiced since last Wednesday, which could give him 13 days off if he returns to practice next Wednesday.

"I think he's really improved," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said, "but I think it's at the point now where for us it's if we give him these extra couple of days we are hoping that it won't be every week something that we're dealing with."

Gerhart said he believes he will play next week.

"The growth in the last week alone has been great," Gerhart said. "Anything near that and it will be feeling good and ready to go."

Gerhart was ruled out the same day the Jaguars listed cornerback Alan Ball and defensive end Andre Branch as probable on the injury report, an indication they will play Sunday.

Branch, who is tied for the Jaguars' lead in sacks with three, missed Wednesday's practice with a groin injury sustained against Tennessee last week before working full Thursday and Friday.

Ball, a starter in the first six regular-season games, was limited Wednesday and missed practice Thursday while dealing with ankle/knee issues. He practiced full Friday.

The Jaguars also added tight end Clay Harbor to the injury report Friday with a knee injury. He worked limited Friday and is listed as probable.

With Gerhart out, Bradley said the team's approach at running back Sunday likely will be similar to last week against Tennessee. Rookie Storm Johnson started that game, carrying 10 times for 21 yards. Denard Robinson carried five times for 22 yards and Jordan Todman rushed for one yard on three carries.

Bradley, who said Monday the team's goal against Tennessee was for Johnson to get 10 carries, said he didn't know if Johnson was ready physically for 25 carries in a game.

"I think he's still building that trust on what he can do and the number of carries," Bradley said. "I know just in practice and his strength and things like that I think that would be a good thing if at the end of the day he had that many carries. I don't know if we're there yet with him physically but I think the combination of both of them (Robinson and Johnson) is good for us."

Also on Friday, Bradley said cornerback Demetrius McCray will start at left cornerback for a third consecutive game, with Dwayne Gratz getting repetitions at the position for a second consecutive game.

Gratz started the first four games of the season until sustaining a concussion against San Diego in Week 4. McCray started with Gratz out of the lineup in Week 5 against Pittsburgh and McCray started last week against Tennessee with Gratz getting about half as many repetitions as McCray.

"I just see those two guys rotating," Bradley said.

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