Now that NFL teams are only days away from being down to 53 players, head coaches and personnel around the league will make tough decisions that affect players’ careers. Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone told the media on Tuesday making these decisions about the roster isn’t something he enjoys, but it’s part of building a winning football team.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said this is a week he does not like. Making decisions over who to keep and who to release when the team’s roster must be trimmed to 53 players is quite agonizing. It’s something he remembers vividly as a player and uses his experiences in making the tough calls and speaking with players to let them know their fate.
"“I always get down this week. Every time this week comes up, every year for me it’s hard. I’ve been one of those guys that has been cut a bunch of times,” Marrone told the media in his press conference. “I kind of look back on how I felt. I felt like I did everything, busted my butt like a lot of guys on this team did. I just remember playing in the last game and going to bed that night and thinking to myself, ‘When I walk in that building, within five to 10 to 15 minutes, my whole life is going to change one way or the other.’ Whether you make it or not.”"
The good thing is the Jaguars don’t have many holes to fill on either side of the ball. The bad thing is more than 30 men are battling for a handful of roster spots, which makes the coaching staff’s decisions that much harder.
Marrone handles the decision on cuts on his own, meeting with each player. He said the talk is short, not long and tough to do. But there is still work to be done and the game on Thursday at Tampa Bay is crucial to determining who fills those few slots remaining.
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There could be a surprise or two when final cuts are made. Because of injuries at the wide receiver position and the lack of depth at linebacker, this roster may look different than most thought it would appear before training camp.
Here are three bold predictions for the Jaguars final 53-man roster.
The Jaguars Keep Three Running Backs
This really isn’t as bold a prediction as much as it means other positions will get stronger.
There is no doubt Leonard Fournette will be the bell cow for this offense with T.J. Yeldon the second back and Corey Grant as the change of pace runner. After that, there isn’t much else to talk about.
The interesting part here is there won’t be a fullback on the roster. Tommy Bohanon, who looked better last season in camp and provided strong blocking in front of the tailback, does not make the roster. This means the Jaguars keep four tight ends and use one as an H-back or tight end at the goal line.
Dede Westbrook Becomes the No. 2 Wide Receiver
Receivers coach Keenan McCardell told me during OTAs having a healthy Westbrook in camp has allowed the second-year pro to expand his role in this offense. Westbrook’s speed and big-play ability will be an asset on third down.
The Jaguars should open the season with Keelan Cole as the No. 1 guy with Westbrook second and either Dante Moncrief or DJ Chark third. There is still plenty of depth within the unit despite losing Lee for the season.
Tyler Patmon Wins the Nickel Cornerback Spot
The Jacksonville Jaguars signed D.J. Hayden in free agency to replace Aaron Colvin. One former Jaguars player told me losing Colvin is a bigger deal than some might think. While Hayden has looked good in practice, Tyler Patmon has a slight edge here.
While both players figure to have prominent roles in the secondary, Patmon’s consistency earns him the nod over the former first-round draft pick.