Yesterday I wrote about information coming out of OTAs and how you have to read it with a grain of salt. OTA information is being spread to motivate players, not to inform fans. If someone is said to be doing well, it is simply the coaches encouragement to continue pushing. It isn’t really an indication of someone breaking into the starting line-up. That won’t come for a long time, July camp and pre-season.
Let me give you a good example of this. Here we are in early July, 2008. The Jaguars have drafted Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. The message being given from OTA is that Reggie Hayward has to pick up his game. Here is an exchange between Vic Ketchman and Chris Harris of Big Cat Country.
Chris: Yes, Reggie is obviously competing against the rookies, what I mean is that Reggie’s future with the team could depend on how many players they want to keep at other positions.
Vic: Chris, they didn’t draft defensive ends with their first two picks because they liked the depth they had. Clearly the intent is to upgrade defensive end. Reggie is being challenged. We know about his Achilles injury and that’s why he’s being challenged. Before that injury, if he was the guy he was before he got hurt, they’d never of made those picks. These were need draft picks and the Jaguars jockeyed themselves to into position to fit themselves where the player was.
He’s competing against Harvey and Groves. They drafted two defensive ends, figure it out.
Was Reggie Hayward ever really challenged by these two rookies? No, he wasn’t. Reggie remained the best pass rushing defensive end the Jaguars had. He was being positioned into a contract salary reduction. When healthy, he is still the better pass rusher of Harvey or Groves.
Now let’s fast forward to 2010. Here is Vic Ketchman on Derrick Harvey:
Jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman writes that he feels Jaguars rookie defensive end Austen Lane will give incumbent starter Derrick Harvey some serious competition at the left end spot during training camp.
Sound familiar? Derrick Harvey makes $13 million a year. Will Austin Lane really give Derrick serious competition? No, he won’t. Very, very,very rarely does a fifth round draft choice defensive end ever show a lot during his rookie year. Beside that, Austin Lane has been injured during the OTAs. No one has seen him play! Maybe by year three, maybe, maybe he will be a starter. Derrick Harvey is actually a good defensive end, he just needs help in putting pressure on the quarterback.
You will hear a lot about Austin Lane, who might actually take the field soon. You will hear a lot about Larry Hart. The effort in these discussions is to convince Derrick Harvey to perform up to the $13 million he is being paid. Derrick will probably be cut or traded in the next couple of years simply because of salary. He has the three strikes against him; A Shack Harris pick, a high paid number one pick and not a pro bowl guy. This is Derrick Harvey’s year to make it in the NFL as a high paid player.
So once again, I caution you on believing too much in what you read. Tiquan Underwood making a case for making the team? Sure, why not. Everyone is making a case. It is June and there is nothing else to write about. Relax and enjoy the summer. The real action hasn’t started yet.
– Terry O’Brien