Will James Sample’s Injury Cost Him a Starting Role?


James Sample is an impressive rookie worth keeping an eye on among a talented group of young players on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster.

Unfortunately for Sample, he’s seen his offseason workouts come to an end with a fractured arm. While expected to come back in time for training camp, this could be a costly blow for the young safety.

Sergio Brown, signed as a free agent from the Indianapolis Colts this offseason, was an unexciting bandaid for the free safety position. He’s with the Jaguars to bridge a gap that has existed at the position for too long. When the Jags selected James Sample in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, it seemed possible that Brown would take on more of a mentoring role with Sample being brought in to compete immediately for the starting free safety spot.

Part of that assumption was a full offseason of work.

The jump from the collegiate level to the NFL is a big one and some of the biggest college superstars struggle to do it. It’s even harder when you’re coming in with pressure placed upon you to succeed at a position you didn’t play your entire collegiate career. While strong safety and free safety aren’t so different from each other that they don’t share similar skills, Sample was expecting to compete as a backup at strong safety before being informed he’d be part of a competition for the starting role at free safety.

Now he’ll find himself woefully behind the veteran Brown in this competition.

While he may come back with vigor from his injury, he’ll have less opportunities to prove to the coaching staff that he deserves to be starting.

The way I see it for now is that Sample may not have enough opportunity to prove his worth before the season starts, but could get a chance a few weeks into the 2015 season. While it’s all speculation at this point and we’ll have to see where he is at when he returns, the team has some high expectations for Sample and he has seemed to match them in initial evaluations. Hopefully he’ll get to see the field at some point and show why the Jaguars valued him as a possible starter this offseason.

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