Jacksonville Jaguars training camp is coming up rather rapidly. From July 27th – August 12th, the Jags are going to be focused on one thing: getting better.
With the team once again staying home for training camp, we’ll be able to go watch 10 practices that are open to the public. For the others, we’ll have to sift through coach-speak and all the hype surrounding guys like Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, Luke Joeckel, and others.
Before it all begins, I’ve got three positions for us all to keep an eye on. There are less position battles than last year when the Jags had young players competing all over. Now with some veterans it may be harder for the young guys to get into the starting lineup. There are still spots where it can happen, however.
May 28, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars guard A.J. Cann (60) holds a blocking pad during OTAs at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
1) Guard: A.J. Cann vs Zane Beadles
A.J. Cann was brought to the Jaguars to either push Zane Beadles to be better or to take the starting job away from him. The third round pick is a formidable opponent for the veteran and while Beadles should be able to fend off the competition, it’s anything but certain.
Beadles is among the most overrated Jaguars (if that’s even possible) according to CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco, saying:
"They gave him a big-money deal as a free agent last season and he played poorly for the first half of the season. He did come on late, but rookie A.J. Cann will push him for his job."
The thought that Cann can push Beadles, as a rookie, just one year after Beadles was brought to the Jaguars to be a long-term solution to the guard position is almost farfetched. And yet it’s the situation that Beadles finds himself in almost purely because of his unimpressive play. He wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t what general manager Dave Caldwell wanted out of him. So, Beadles finds himself in competition.
To Cann’s credit, he is a beast of a guard. Projected to go in round two, Cann fell to the Jags early in the third and there really wasn’t much better value than that selection. He’s got the size to bully the opposition and he is an explosive athlete for the position. He could be an instant starter on many NFL teams and the fact that he has to beat out Beadles is a testament to both Beadles’ ability and the respect the team has for the veteran. If anyone can force him out, though, it’ll be Cann.
Guard position battles may not be the sexiest thing in the world, but this one could have a major impact for both the passing and run game. With Brandon Linder manning the other guard spot and on a Pro Bowl trajectory, it’s important to get this side right too. At this point, it’s a toss up. I think it’s clear that Cann is the future, though.
Next: Will free safety finally be settled?