The emergence of a reliable third running back behind Sylvester Nzekwe and Jerry Joseph is a priority for the Southern offense this fall.
Should Nzekwe or Joseph (or both) go down with an injury, the Jaguars want to know the ball will be in good hands.
On Tuesday, they got to see that exact situation unfold.
Nzekwe (ankle) and Joseph (knee) were held out of practice with minor injuries and instead did conditioning work. They’re expected back on Wednesday, the team’s first day in full pads, but their time on the sideline meant a valuable chance for someone to grab hold of the No. 3 spot.
The reps were split up between redshirt junior Darrius Coleman, freshman Lenard Tillery and former sprinter Terrance Clayton. Coleman, a 5-foot-9, 207-pound former defensive back, has 30 pounds on Tillery and more than 50 on Clayton, making him the best fit physically.
But after putting together a good practice with the increased workload, Coleman ran the wrong direction on a screen play during a simulated game situation and spent much of the rest of the day jogging laps around the field as punishment.
“We didn’t have a great day today,” offensive line coach and running game coordinator Paul Lounsberry said. “We need to go back on the film and keep working. I think the effort is there and the physicality can be there, we just have to make sure we’re all going the right way.”
The same challenge goes for Tillery and Clayton.
Coach Stump Mitchell praised Tillery early in camp, saying he was playing well enough to avoid a redshirt, and he also said Clayton might be the fastest player on the roster.
But both — and Coleman, for that matter — are still working to master the playbook and become steady options like Nzekwe and Joseph.
Clayton also worked on kickoff returns Tuesday.
“We just have to find a way to give (Clayton) the ball,” Mitchell said. “He doesn’t have to know everything, but I think he needs an opportunity to see if he can take it the distance.”
New looks on defense
After lining up in a 4-3 defense early in camp, the Jaguars showed more looks in a 3-4 on Tuesday, swapping defensive tackle Delwin Williams out for junior linebacker Franchot West, who joined starters Detrane Lindsey, Javon Allen and Corry Roy.
At the free safety spot, freshman Jamaal Martin (6-foot-3, 183 pounds) played with the first team instead of junior Johnathon Wilson, the favorite to land the starting spot heading into camp. The rest of the secondary held constant, with Virgil Williams and Johnathan Mack at cornerback and Levi Jackson at strong safety.