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Open Locker Room: RB Toby Gerhart ruled out Sunday


JACKSONVILLE – The news wasn't ideal for the offense Friday.

But while the Jaguars will be without their starting running back Sunday, they also learned Friday they may be fully healthy at another position for the first time this season.

Toby Gerhart, the Jaguars' starting running back in the first five games of the 2014 season, on Friday was ruled out of the team's game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday. The news came the same day the team listed wide receivers Marqise Lee and Cecil Shorts III as probable for Sunday.

Gerhart, who has dealt with foot/ankle issues since the regular-season opener, missed practice Thursday and Friday.

"It's frustrating and disappointing," Gerhart said Friday as the Jaguars (0-5) prepared to play the Titans (0-5) at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said while Gerhart wanted to play Sunday, trainers, doctors and coaches "stepped in" and made the decision he would take this week off.

"I have all the respect for Toby," Bradley said. "Some weeks it feels really good; other weeks it comes back and we've been monitoring it. I know he's gone in the games feeling really good like last week and then the first play or the third play of the game it bothered him.

"We just stepped in saying let's give you this week off so you can stay off of it. We will hopefully accelerate it so we're not dealing with it from week to week. It's tough on him. I know the team holds him in such high regard because of who he is and what he's battling, but I think this is truly best for us and best for the team."

Gerhart originally injured the area in Week 1 against Philadelphia when defensive tackle Fletcher Cox tackled him, twisting Gerhart to the ground. Cox was penalized for a horse-collar tackle on the play.

Gerhart entered last week's game against Pittsburgh feeling confident he could push off and play 100 percent, but re-aggravated the area on the game's first series.

"It's something that's been dragging on since the horse-collar in Philly," Gerhart said. "I've been trying to push through it, then it would start to feel good, then I play and it takes a step back. I wish I was out there."

Bradley said Gerhart's absence will create opportunities for rookie Storm Johnson, backup Jordan Todman and second-year veteran Denard Robinson.

"I think that you will see all three of them have a chance to play in different roles," Bradley said. "It does create opportunities. … All three will be utilized."

Gerhart leads the Jaguars with 123 yards on 48 carries, while Robinson has rushed for 72 yards on 23 carries. Todman has rushed for 20 yards on five carries, and Johnson has rushed for 27 yards on four carries. All of Johnson's carries came against Pittsburgh.

Bradley said Johnson has practiced well the past three weeks.

"He's doing some really good things in practice," Bradley said, adding, "I don't know if you see at the end of the game where one running back has 15-16 carries. It might be split up a little bit just because of where we're at."

While the running back position will be without a primary contributor, the Jaguars' receivers enter the weekend as healthy as they have been all season. With Shorts and Lee probable after missing time with hamstring injuries, all of the Jaguars' front-line receivers – Shorts, Lee, rookies Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, second-year veteran Ace Sanders and second-year veteran Mike Brown – could be available Sunday.

"It's been a long time coming," Shorts said. "I don't think we've had two practices where all of us were healthy and able to practice. It will be exciting to see how we use all of the weapons."

Shorts, who said he was confident entering the week he had a chance to play, missed practice Wednesday, but worked full Thursday and Friday. Lee, who missed the last three games, worked limited Wednesday and full the last two days.

Shorts, who missed two games in preseason and the first two regular-season games with the issue, said he believes he can play a full four quarters.

"If it's 80 plays, I'll be out there 80 plays," Shorts said. "I'm good to go. You heard it from me."

Hurns and Robinson started at receiver last week. Shorts and Lee have started at their respective positions when healthy this season. Bradley said this week the receiver group has been splitting repetitions in practice to reduce wear and tear and injuries.

Also around the Jaguars:

*Second-year cornerback Demetrius McCray likely will start ahead of second-year veteran Dwayne Gratz. McCray started for Gratz last Sunday against Pittsburgh when Gratz was out with a concussion and has continued to work with the first team in practice this week. "We'll see, but if it stays as is McCray will be starting," Bradley said. …

*Defensive end Ryan Davis (shoulder), Gratz (concussion), tight end Clay Harbor (back), Hurns (foot), Johnson (ankle), Lee (hamstring), defensive tackle Roy Miller (ankle), Shorts and linebacker Dekoda Watson (shoulder) worked full Friday and were listed as probable. …

*Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny (knee contusion) was limited Friday, but also was listed as probable and is expected to play. …

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