John Raoux/Associated Press
Much like the receivers, the coaches and the fans will be looking for a running back to break away from the pack in the battle for the backup position. Toby Gerhart is being held out of the preseason opener due to a hip flexor, which means the trio of backs vying for the backup role will see extended playing time during the first game.
Now is the time for someone to make his move.
The one running back everyone has been watching has been Denard Robinson. He failed to live up to the lofty expectations set for him in his rookie season, compiling only 66 yards on 20 carries, including a 24-yard run ending in a fumble on the 1-yard line.
Robinson had some problems with fumbles last season, contributing to his lack of success. It was announced earlier this offseason that this issue stemmed from nerve damage to his arm following a hit he took in 2012. He has since healed completely and is more confident than ever. He is looking to use his great combination of speed and agility to stake his claim as the change-of-pace back.
As much as Robinson wants that position, he is getting a surprising amount of competition from veteran Jordan Todman. Per Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com, head coach Gus Bradley was impressed by Todman, saying, "You’re seeing him break some. The other day he had one where he broke, and you saw him accelerate. Today he had another one, and I think that’s what we’re counting on him for—to give that change-up, that burst that we know he has."
Todman had little buzz about him up until this point, with most of the attention being on Robinson and seventh-round pick Storm Johnson. By catching on here near the beginning of the season, Todman may very well steal back some of the carries Robinson was expected to take and may even supplant the second-year player as the favorite for the backup role.
Johnson doesn't figure to factor too much into this race as he still has some learning to do. However, we have seen seventh-round running backs, such as Ahmad Bradshaw and Bryce Brown, make a surprising impact for their team. Johnson has the ability to replicate their success since he was projected to go a few rounds higher than he did, but only time will tell.