As the Jacksonville Jaguars’ training camp gets under way, here are some things to watch at each position group on the offense.
The Jacksonville Jaguars players are back in Duval and ready to get down to business. The offseason is officially in the books and real football inches closer and closer.
Until then, however, we only have training camp. In preparation, here’s what to look for on offense:
Everyone knows that this year is the make or break year for Blake Bortles. He has been working all summer with his quarterback coach in California and, if he improves this season, the Jaguars will be his team for years to come.
But enough about Bortles, let’s talk about the backups. Chad Henne and Brandon Allen will compete for the backup position once again in training camp. Don’t be surprised if Henne is a veteran roster cut. The coaching staff obviously liked Allen enough last year to keep him on the active roster to avoid losing him to another team If they placed him on the practice squad. If Allen impresses throughout training camp and the preseason he could be the number two guy in Jacksonville.
There are lots of things to watch here. How many running backs will the Jaguars keep? Who will they keep at fullback, the rookie or the veteran? Will Leonard Fournette start right away? My guess is that the Jaguars keep five running backs including rookie fullback Marquez Williams.
The running game has been emphasized too much since the arrival of Tom Coughlin as executive vice president of football operations and there is too much invested in the position to cut any of them. I expect Fournette, Chris Ivory, T.J. Yeldon, Corey Grant and Williams to all make the roster.
The biggest thing to watch here is how many receivers the Jaguars keep on their roster. The guess here is six: Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, Arrelious Benn, and Rashad Greene.
Keep an eye on how the Jaguars decide to use Westbrook in camp and preseason. Westbrook is extremely talented and if it weren’t for off field concerns he likely would have been a first round pick, if he keeps his nose clean, he could be the team’s secret weapon.
This is the hardest position for me to predict. It wouldn’t surprise me if Marcedes Lewis is among the roster cuts, depending on how Ben Koyack plays. Koyack can block well and he is a better route runner than Lewis.
The Jaguars also added Mychal Rivera in the offseason, so Koyack and Rivera could be the top two options at tight end. But the Jaguars are clearly not satisfied with the position as they recently brought in Gary Barnidge for a visit. They could just be doing their due diligence and trying to get better where they can, but this is one position where I believe we could see some new faces before the start of the season.
After quarterback, this has been the second most popular topic for the Jaguars this offseason. There are many questions that still need to be answered here. Who will start at left tackle? Will the loser of the position battle play guard? Will Brandon Linder play center, or guard? If Cam Robinson wins the starting left tackle position, could Albert be traded, or cut? Will the real A.J. Cann please stand up?
There are many questions and few answers at this point, this will be a highly scrutinized position in camp with Doug Marrone, the former offensive line coach, taking over the head coaching duties. I fully expect the Jaguars to work out many different combinations to see what works best and we may not have an answer until Week 3 or Week 4 of the preseason.
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My guess is that the starting line looks like Albert/Robinson/Linder/A.J Cann/Jermey Parnell. However, there are a couple of names to keep an eye on: Patrick Omameh and Luke Bowanko. Omameh played extensively last season after injuries forced him into action and he played well for the most part, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him beat out Cann for a starting spot if his play doesn’t improve from last year.
Bowanko is another guy to watch, he played for most of the 2015 season at center and played well, but injuries forced him to miss the entire 2016 season. If he looks good in camp it would be a welcome surprise for the Jaguars and he could start at center, which would make their starting lineup something like Albert/Robinson/Bowanko/Linder/Parnell. There are many other combinations to consider but these two are the most likely scenarios I believe. That is assuming Albert, beats out rookie Cam Robinson for the job. If Robinson wins the job that opens the door for even more possibilities.
Did we miss anything you’d like to watch for in camp? Let us know!