Jacksonville Jaguars running backs coach pumps up Toby Gerhart as 'a horse'

Eric Edholm
In this Nov. 24, 2013 file photo, Minnesota Vikings Toby Gerhart runs with the football during an NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wis. The Jaguars contined its offensive makeover Tuesday night, March 11, 2014,  by agreeing to terms with Gerhart, a possible indication Jacksonville doesn't expect free agent Maurice Jones-Drew to return
FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2013 file photo, Minnesota Vikings Toby Gerhart runs with the football during an NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wis. The Jaguars contined its offensive makeover Tuesday night, March 11, 2014, by agreeing to terms with Gerhart, a possible indication Jacksonville doesn't expect free agent Maurice Jones-Drew to return. (AP Photo/Mike McGinnis, File)

Toby Gerhart, 27, is at an age where most NFL running backs are in the latter portions of their career. And yet, with only six starts and 276 career carries — nine NFL backs had more last season — the fourth-year pro might just be ready to break out.

Gerhart has escaped Minnesota, where he was relegated to backup status behind workhorse Adrian Peterson. The only saving grace for Gerhart was that Peterson occasionally was prone to injury, which allowed Gerhart to get a shot in doses.

The Jaguars, needing a top running back with Maurice Jones-Drew gone, took notice in the small sample size. Jags running backs coach Terry Richardson has done his research and likes what he sees, per the Florida Times-Union. 

“Without a doubt,” Richardson said. “He’s a horse. He’s a big guy, and I talked to one of his former [position] coaches, and he was saying Toby had the strongest legs he’s been around in terms of his leg drive and leg power. We’re excited about that.”

The Jaguars don't have a lot of proven assets at the position. Holdovers Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson averaged 3.4 and 3.3 yards per carry, respectively, and combined for a total of 110 touches from scrimmage. Other candidates in the backfield include seventh-round pick Storm Johnson and undrafted rookies Beau Blankenship and Terrance Cobb.

But Gerhart will get the first crack to start for the Jaguars and be a productive player for an offense that ranked 32nd in points scored and 31st in total yards and rushing yards. 

“Toby is a very good football player and a very intelligent player,” Richardson said. “And he’s a great person so it’s not hard for him to fit into this environment. I’m very pleased and happy that we have him.”

Fantasy players, take note.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!