Thumb injury ends Taylor's season; are his Jags days done, too?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Running back Fred Taylor might have played his last game for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Taylor was placed on injured reserve Thursday because of a thumb injury, ending his season with three games left and prompting questions about his future with the franchise.

"All of that still has to handle itself," said Taylor, a 1998 first-round draft pick who has played his entire career in Jacksonville. "I don't know how it's going to play out."

**Fred Taylor**, RB
Jacksonville Jaguars
Career Statistics
Carries: 2,428

Yards: 11,271

Average: 4.6

Touchdowns: 62

Two weeks ago, Taylor said it was clear the organization was headed in another direction because of his reduced role and increased salary. The 32-year-old back is scheduled to make $6 million next season, which seems too high for a small-market team to pay a part-time player.

Taylor suggested this week that he would be open to returning to Jacksonville at a reduced rate.

"I never really wanted to be away from here to begin with," he said. "I just said I'm going to play football, whether it's here or not. ... I'm not going to go, but there's a business side of it. I don't want to go is what I'm saying. It is my plea. I don't want to go."

Taylor is 16th on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 11,271 yards, 81 behind John Riggins. Taylor had 556 yards this season while splitting time with Maurice Jones-Drew and averaged a career-low 3.9 yards per carry behind an injury-riddled offensive line.

Although Taylor acknowledges he has lost a step, he still believes -- and coach Jack Del Rio agrees -- that he can have an impact in a league filled with rising stars and much younger players.

"I can't do some of the things as well as I could," Taylor said. "That is just a part of it. That happened a couple of years ago. I've had to alter my running style a couple of different times, through coaching, through physical ability, injuries. I see certain cuts I want to do, but I'm not going to attempt it."

Taylor said he countered that by being better prepared, whether it's monitoring field conditions or scouting linebackers for tendencies and weaknesses.

Being smart is the main reason Taylor decided against trying to play with his thumb injury. Taylor tore ligaments in his left thumb Sunday at Chicago. Team doctors suggested season-ending surgery, but Taylor wanted to try to play the final three games with a brace.

Doctors tried fitting Taylor with a splint-type device, but since he carries the ball predominantly in his left hand, it was difficult to find something that was comfortable and didn't risk further damage. Taylor was still awaiting word from renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews on whether he needed surgery.

The Jaguars re-signed running back Alvin Pearman to fill Taylor's roster spot. Pearman, a fourth-round draft pick by Jacksonville in 2005, was traded to Seattle at the end of the 2007 preseason. He played three games with the Seahawks, then spent the final 12 games on IR after suffering a knee injury.

Taylor, meanwhile, can only wait to see what happens in the offseason.

"The organization has to do what is best for them," he said. "I am an investment, and I have to do what is best for myself as well. So we'll try to come to a conclusion with the financial part of it, with how we're going to handle my entire situation. Right now, it is kind of early to speculate on any of that.

"I am going to play football. I don't know (where), but my plans haven't changed."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press

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