The Jacksonville Jaguars made a surprising move Thursday afternoon, releasing veteran running back Duke Johnson from the practice squad 10 days after signing him.
The Jaguars did not activate Johnson from the practice squad for the Week 1 road opener against the Houston Texans, instead electing to have James Robinson, Carlos Hyde and Dare Ogunbowale up as the only active running backs.
Johnson was drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Ahead of the 2019 season, Johnson was traded to the Houston Texans. He spent two years with the AFC South rival. In his six seasons in the league, Johnson has started 17 games, including five last season. He's accumulated 1,931 yards on 459 carries (4.2 average) and eight touchdowns on the ground during that time.
Over the past six seasons, Johnson has brought in 307 passes for 2,829 yards (average of 9.2 yards per reception) and 12 touchdowns. He was expected by many to be the Jaguars' logical replacement for Travis Etienne thanks to his pass-catching ability, but the Jaguars have now moved in a different direction.
The Jaguars rushed the ball just 16 times in Week 1, with 14 of those carries going to Hyde (nine) and Robinson (five). Only two teams had fewer rushing attempts than the Jaguars in Week 1, while only three teams threw the ball more than the Jaguars. The Jaguars averaged 4.9 yards per rush, which is even counting in Lawrence's kneel down.
“I wouldn’t say we weren’t able to get him going, we just weren’t able to run the ball in general. We just didn’t get the numbers that we’re looking for. I mean we ran it well when we ran it," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said on Thursday.
"I think it was, if you take Trevor [Lawrence]’s one knee out or whatever, it was 5.2 [yards per carry] or something along those lines. So, we did okay running it, we just didn’t get to run it enough. One, like I said, the down-and-distance kind of hurt us early and then two, you get behind that far down and then that changes the game. We just have to do a better job of orchestrating, handling our business. We had a couple holdings, you had a couple of other things that happened that we have to stay out of those situations and that’ll help and take care of that.”