For an offense already lacking weapons, the last thing the Jacksonville Jaguars need is a quarterback with an injured thumb.
Unfortunately, that's the problem Gus Bradley's new team currently faces, as QB Blaine Gabbert is being listed as questionable, per The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran:
It sounds as if the third-year quarterback will be good to go for Sunday's season opener, but the fact he was limited on Thursday suggests he won't be at 100 percent.
Now throw in the fact that tight end Marcedes Lewis is out with an injury and burgeoning young wide receiver Justin Blackmon is sidelined with a suspension, and suddenly the Jaguars offense is reduced to an inconsistent quarterback throwing to (an admittedly talented) Cecil Shorts and an inexperienced receiving corps.
That's a recipe for mediocrity.
Fortunately for the Jags, they have quite the reliable fall-back option in running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Perhaps due to the fact that he missed a majority of the 2012 season with a foot injury, people seem to have forgotten about the bruising runner.
They've forgotten about how he led the league in carries (343), rushing yards (1,606) and rushing yards per game (100.4) in 2011. About how he was averaging the most yards per carry since his rookie season before getting hurt last year. About how, when healthy, he is one of the most dynamic backs in the league, capable of shouldering a 30-carry load and catching passes out of the backfield.
"When healthy" may be the phrase most observers are concerned about, but MJD looked fine in limited preseason action and, if that's not enough to convince you, take his word for it, via John Oehser at Jaguars.com:
Jones-Drew was asked Wednesday how many carries he could handle. “As many as it takes,” he said, adding, “I feel great.” Jones-Drew said he doesn’t have any idea how many carries he will get on Sunday, and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch wasn’t providing hints, either, but Jones-Drew’s history is that he is capable of getting his body ready and playing at a high level in the regular-season opener despite difficult offseason circumstances.
With No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel and the offensive line taking on a Kansas City Chiefs run defense that gave up a healthy 4.5 yards per carry in 2012, Jones-Drew should run rampant.
The Jaguars have some tantalizing young weapons in Ace Sanders, Denard Robinson and even Jordan Todman.
But with Gabbert at less than 100 percent and Bradley a proponent of a hard-nosed, physical style of play, you can expect Jacksonville to ride its running back in a major way on Sunday.