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Jets RBs in 2021: Young Backs Could Take Center Stage

Frank Gore Led the Charge in 2020 Season, Could Pass the Torch to Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine

Table inside Article
Player GP-GS-DNP-IA Off/ST Snaps
Frank Gore 15-14-0-0 380-0
La'Mical Perine 10-0-0-1 200-23
Ty Johnson 11-1-0-1 169-56
Le'Veon Bell 2-2-0-0 78-0
Josh Adams 8-0-0-0 75-46
Kalen Ballage 3-0-0-0 57-26

Finished on Injured Reserve: Gore

Finished on Reserve/COVID: Perine

Finished on Practice Squad: Pete Guerriero

Reserve/Future Signing: Guerriero

No Longer With Team: Bell, Ballage

Potential Free Agents in 2021
Restricted: Adams

'21: A New Deal
The Jets' leading rusher from the 2020 season, Frank Gore, is the only unrestricted free agent. That could lead to more opportunities for a pair of young running backs -- La'Mical Perine and Ty Johnson. Perine, who will turn 23 on Saturday, Jan. 30, played 10 games in his rookie season and had 232 yards and 6 TDs on 64 rushes. Johnson, 23, played in 11 games for the Jets in the 2020 season after he was claimed off waivers on Oct. 2.

Perine was drafted in the fourth-round in 2020 and had one of the best training camps on the team, let alone among rookies. He showed quickness, bursts of speed and reliable hands out of the backfield before he sustained a high-ankle sprain in practice. He missed the season opener and later scored his first rushing TD, in Week 7 against Buffalo, when he received a season-high 11 carries. After returning from a four-game hiatus on injured reserve, he was slated to receive the bulk of the load in the season finale at New England. He tested positive, however, for COVID-19 and missed the game.

Johnson adds speed to the group. He was the Lions' sixth-round pick in 2019 out of Maryland and made an immediate impact with the Jets. He had a 34-yard run on his second carry with the Green & White, against the Dolphins in Week 6. Then in Week 13 against the Raiders, he ran for 104 yards and 1 TD (his first NFL rushing score) on a career-high 22 carries. He became the first Jets player since 2018 to eclipse the 100-yard mark. Two weeks later against the Rams, in the Green & White's first win, he accounted for 37 of the offense's 74 yards on its opening drive including an 18-yard receiving TD. 

'20: Quick Look Back
Gore, 37, was the Jets' workhorse in the 2020 season. He ran for 653 yards and 2 TDs on 187 carries (3.5 avg). He became the third player in NFL history to reach (exactly) 16,000 rushing yards before he was placed on injured reserve with a lung contusion. Gore was originally signed to help spell Le'Veon Bell and mentor the young RBs on the roster. Once the Jets released Bell on Oct. 13, Gore became the team's lead back. His most significant play, debatably, came through the air when he sealed the Jets' first win of the season with a 6-yard reception against the Rams on third-and-6. 

The Jets rushing offense finished No. 23 in the NFL (105.2 yds/g) and had six RBs with at least 1 carry this the season. The group dealt with injuries throughout the season and ran behind an offensive line that battled injury as well. C Connor McGovern was the only lineman to start all 16 games. 

RB Josh Adams, a restricted free agent in March, was a bright spot for the Jets when his number was called. He played eight games in the 2020 season and had 29 carries, 157 yards and 2 TDs. His 5.4 yards per carry was the best among any RB on the team this season. He averaged 9.3 yards per carry against the Raiders in Week 13 on 8 carries (74 yards).

The team's best performance on the ground was against the Raiders when Johnson, Adams, Gore and QB Sam Darnold combined for 34 carries, 206 yards and 2 TDs. It was the most rushing yards the Jets have had in a single game since 2018.

RB Trivia
With Frank Gore's contributions in 2020, he becomes the fifth RB who has rushed for over 10,000 yards in his NFL career with at least some of those yards coming as a member of the New York Jets. The list: Gore (16,000 yards, 3rd all-time), Curtis Martin (14,101, 6th), LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684, 7th), John Riggins (11,352, 19th) and Thomas Jones (10,591, 26th).

See the Top Photos of Frank Gore, La'Mical Perine, Ty Johnson and Josh Adams in 2020

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