After watching both the offensive and defensive lines put on the pads for the first time, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone was pleased with what he saw. Especially the play of guard A.J. Cann
Of course, this was the first time the Jacksonville Jaguars scrimmaged with pads, which means there is plenty of progress to be made. For the most part, it was a good starting point, with more chances for improvement. That includes A.J. Cann.
"“I think like anything, it was a nice start. It is a very good situation for them because I really think, obviously with our defensive line, I think those guys play at a high level and both sides of the ball are really competing and working extremely hard against each other,” Doug Marrone told the media prior to the team’s fourth day of training camp.“From a coach’s standpoint, that is what you want to see because you see guys get better. Some guys have gotten off … It is the first day, so you always say the same thing. ‘Let’s not get too excited about someone that played well. Let’s not get too down on anything that we have a better expectation for that maybe didn’t meet it.’”"
Players competed in one-on-one drills to work on blocking techniques and leverage in the heat and humidity on Saturday evening. There were plenty of positives the Jaguars could take from the first night practice. Marrone acknowledged the play of right guard A.J. Cann, who may be the most scrutinized starter on the line from last season.
The Jaguars are looking for more consistency from that position. Cann, who came to OTAs injured, has slowly made his way back and looks better than he did at the end of the 2017 season.
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"“I look at it as, how were you competing against each other? They are getting after it. I thought that one guy, A.J. [Cann], who has not been out there, came out and had a good day,” Marrone said."
Cann looked strong in the one-on-one drills and showed good leverage at the snap of the ball. If he can provide better blocking up front, the Jaguars could have a top 10 offensive line in 2018. He was a third-round pick out of South Carolina in the 2015 NFL Draft and has started 44 of the 45 games he has played in the NFL.
Jacksonville signed left guard Andrew Norwell in the offseason to beef up the best running game in the NFL last season (141 yards a game). The Jaguars yielded just 24 sacks last season, the fewest in quarterback Blake Bortles’ career.
Two months ago, I wrote a story for Black and Teal about offensive line coach Pat Flaherty showing support for Cann and his place as a starter.
While the right guard position may be the weakest spot on the line, Flaherty was confident when he said right guard “will work itself out,” He was impressed with the improvement of Cann, who has had an up and down career in four years with the organization.
"“A.J. Cann did some things better in 2017 than what he’s done. I wasn’t with him those first couple of years. He has improved in a lot of areas,” Flaherty said."