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Pearman key figure

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Rookie running back Alvin Pearman rose to prominence in Saturday night's preseason game, which gives rise to the question: Will Pearman be a prominent player for the Jaguars on opening day?

When the Jaguars drafted him in the fourth round this past April, all of the talk was about Pearman's pass-catching ability. It was thought Pearman's value would be as a third-down back, but, all of a sudden, there's talk that he could become much more than a utility guy.

"His role is whatever he wants it to be. He's the same size as Priest Holmes," Jaguars running back coach Kennedy Pola said.

As Fred Taylor continues his recovery from offseason knee surgery, Pearman continues to gain in confidence and repetitions. At practice this morning, Pearman and LaBrandon Toefield were the main ball-carriers and both runners looked quick and decisive in their cuts.

What if Taylor isn't ready to assume a full workload on opening day? Who will stand in for Taylor? Toefield or Pearman?

The answers coach Jack Del Rio needs at running back will come in the next three weeks. Del Rio said after the win over Miami that Taylor's practice participation will be slowly increased, and Del Rio said after this morning's practice that Taylor is "champing at the bit. We're actually having to hold him back."

Pearman's performance against the Dolphins made it a little easier for Del Rio to be patient and cautious with Taylor's rehab. Pearman rushed 11 times for 64 yards, including a 17-yard run on a third-and-16 play that led to the Jaguars' first offensive touchdown of the preseason.

"He was good. I thought he showed some burst," Del Rio said of Pearman.

So, are those the stats of an every-downs back, or is Pearman still destined to be a change-of-pace runner and a third-down back?

"Too often people get labeled. I'd rather let the young man compete and see where it goes," Del Rio said.

"It's just a building block," Pearman said of his debut. "I'm playing to help the team win. I have no expectations for myself other than buying into the program."

When asked if he believes he could do the job if asked to step in for Taylor, Pearman said, "absolutely."

"He's sharp, he's smart. I can trust him in knowing our system. He played hard and didn't make any mental mistakes," Pola said.

"I preach to him not to get caught up in the more physical runners. He has a style that's his. He's a quick cutter. He seems to always make the right cut. I like the way he sets things up and I like the burst he has to hit it when it's there," Pola added.

Pearman will be prominent again this Saturday when the Jaguars play at Tampa Bay.

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