The Jacksonville Jaguars have a number of position battles building up this offseason. In what I’m sure is a disappointment for all of national media, Blaine Gabbert is cemented as the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. Who is battling it out for the starting job this year?
- Justin Blackmon
- Lee Evans
- Laurent Robinson
- Mike Thomas
Wide receiver was a tough position for the Jaguars in 2011. The unit struggled mightily and failed to develop a rapport with Gabbert. Of the projected top four receivers, three are newcomers to the Jaguars for 2012. While Robinson and Blackmon are projected to start on the outside, the slot is unsettled and could go to Thomas who head coach Mike Mularkey says is very versatile. A resurgent Evans could spoil the whole thing if his play matches the skills he flashed during his younger days. Robinson has to prove his worth after signing a big contract after leaving Dallas.
- Aaron Ross
- Rashean Mathis
Rashean Mathis has to defend his starting corner spot for the first time since joining the Jaguars a decade ago. Mathis tore his ACL last season and is coming back from injury hungry to fulfill the stipulations in an incentive-filled one year contract. Ross comes over from the New York Giants where he won two Super Bowls and put up some pretty impressive numbers for a cornerback. He’ll put pressure on Mathis which should promote the play of whomever takes over opposite Derek Cox. Whoever “loses out” in this battle will probably play the nickel corner spot vacated after the release of Drew Coleman.
Other Potential Battles To Pay Attention To
- Defensive End – Will second round pick Andre Branch start? Will Aaron Kampman step up? What is going on with John Chick? Branch is projected to provide an immediate impact by most analysts, but the multitude of talent at the position may lead to somebody else pushing for the spot.
- Right Tackle - A position that seems to have been overlooked by the Jaguars during free agency and the draft, will Eben Britton clamp it down once again? The Jags extended Guy Whimper following the ’11 season after he saw significant starting time. Many fans, myself included, were disappointed with Whimper’s play. Whimper seems to have been extended as insurance but could beat out Britton if he isn’t up to form after coming back from injury.
- Fullback - While I’m not certain a battle will develop this year, there will be some significant attention given to the position. Greg Jones is the defending incumbent and has played very, very well during his tenure with the Jaguars. Young gun Brock Bolen has impressed the front office for some time and has secured his niche on the team. With Jones’ larger salary and age, the team may begin looking at other options. The recent signing of ex-Viking Naufahu Tahi may be a sign that things could be changing at the position.
With veteran mini-camp coming up on the 12th of June and training camp following, it’s time to turn our attention to who may be defending and securing starting or impact roles for the Jaguars. The real toss up is the wide receiver position, even with talent like Blackmon and Robinson coming back in. The highlight will certainly be the cornerback battle between Ross and Mathis.
Training camp always provides some fun with the position battles they put up!
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims
Tags: Aaron Kampman Aaron Ross Andre Branch Blaine Gabbert Brock Bolen Dallas Cowboys Derek Cox Drew Coleman; Eben Britton Greg Jones Guy Whimper Jacksonville Jaguars John Chick Justin Blackmon Laurent Robinson Lee Evans Mike Mularkey Mike Thomas Minnesota Vikings Naufahu Tahi New York Giants Rashean Mathis