Jags could be without Taylor for rest of season
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Fred Taylor spent the last few years trying to shake off the nickname that haunted him early in his career.
Determined never to be called "Fragile Fred" again, Taylor is doing all he can to play with torn ligaments in his left thumb. He was awaiting a second opinion Wednesday on the thumb before deciding whether to join the Jacksonville Jaguars' growing injured reserve list.
"I can tolerate a lot of pain," Taylor said. "For a lot of years, it's been said that I couldn't. But I can."
Taylor, 16th on the NFL's career rushing list with 11,271 yards, hurt his thumb during a run Sunday at Chicago. The surrounding area was red, purple and swollen after the game, but Taylor said it has improved considerably since. Taylor didn't practice Wednesday but was working with several braces in hopes of finding one that would be comfortable to play in Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
If he plays.
Two doctors have advised Taylor that he should have season-ending surgery, but Taylor sent the MRI exam to renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., for another opinion.
"I trust the docs that we have, but it's always good to get another set of professional eyes on it," Taylor said. "Right now, it just feels like a bad sprain. ... I'm not in a rush to tank it. I would like to finish this season."
Jacksonville also placed fullback Greg Jones (ankle) on IR, activated cornerback Isaiah Gardner off the practice squad and signed defensive tackle Attiyah Ellison off the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad.
Jones was the latest in a long list of players lost for the season. Receiver Jerry Porter (groin) could join him there, coach Jack Del Rio said. The team is waiting to see how Porter's recovery goes this week before making a determination on his future.
The Jaguars could be without six offensive starters Sunday if Taylor doesn't play. Guards Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams were lost in the opener and receiver Matt Jones was suspended for the final three games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
With the rash of injuries, Taylor said it was like "the black-cloud Jaguars right now" in Jacksonville. "We're going to shake that off and get a little more sunshine around here," he added.
Taylor, who has 556 yards rushing this season and is averaging a career-low 3.9 yards a carry, expects to have a definitive answer about his season Thursday. His future with the franchise might not be known for some time.
The team's all-time leading rusher, however, said Wednesday that he hopes to finish his career in Jacksonville. And Del Rio, two weeks after refusing to speculate on whether Taylor might return, said he would like to have him back.
"Clearly, he's one of the all-time great Jaguars," Del Rio said. "He's been an absolute stud the six years that I've been here in Jacksonville. ... At this point, I would envision him back with the Jaguars. He wants to play, he's taken good care of his body and he's still got some juice."
Taylor openly questioned his future two weeks ago, saying his rising salary (he's due to make $6 million next season) and diminishing work load (Maurice Jones-Drew has one less carry and 51 more yards than Taylor this season) would lead anyone to believe his days were numbered in Jacksonville.
Taylor indicated Wednesday that he would be open to returning at a reduced salary.
"It depends on what that pay cut would be," Taylor said. "From there, I would be my own agent and say give me more upfront money, then you don't take a big hit on your salary cap. That would be the only way I would take a pay cut."
A reduced role seems like a given, too.
"The biggest thing is you have to recognize at some point you may not be the guy who's getting the primary workload," Del Rio said. "We'll just have to work through that and decide whether or not that's something that's good for all of us. The guy still has some skill level -- that's the important thing. ... I'd like to see him retire a Jaguar."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press