Position battles often take place in training camp and the Jacksonville Jaguars have a few of their own right now. The most important one is probably the one at right tackle, where incumbent Jawaan Taylor and sophomore Walker Little are competing for the starting job. Head coach Doug Pederson says that the Week 2 preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers will bring some clarity.
Pederson met with the local media before Day 14 of training camp and said that the Steelers game “will be important for both players”. He noted that Taylor has responded well coming off injury and Little has done an outstanding job. The head coach then added that the joint practices with the Atlanta Falcons could also play a role in the competition.
"We’re kind of in a good spot with it because you can kind of go either way and the other guy can be the swing tackle or whatever, so this week will be important. And even when we go to Atlanta and practice against Atlanta will be another good opportunity for both of us."
A second-round selection in 2019, Taylor has made 49 consecutive starts. But he’s struggled with penalties and hasn’t improved much after a promising rookie season. Last year, he allowed 34 total pressures and six sacks, and committed a concerning 12 penalties. He suffered a hamstring injury early in training camp that kept him out for a few days but he’s currently practicing without restrictions. Here’s Pederson’s exchange with the media.
The sooner the Jaguars sort out the battle at right tackle the better
Taylor is scheduled to become a free agent next year and the last thing he would want is to spend the year on the bench. As Pederson said, the former Florida Gator has fared well since coming back and still has a shot at winning the job.
On the other hand, Little has also performed well. A second-round pick in last year’s draft, he’s lining up on the right side after playing left tackle throughout most of his football career. The former Stanford Cardinal has started three games in his rookie year. He allowed two sacks in his first start but none in the next two.
You could make the case that Taylor has the edge by virtue of being the incumbent and having to compete for his job is maybe what he needed. Either way, he and Little seem to be getting better because of it. Taylor recently told Jamal St. Cyr of News4JAX that they’re helping each other, “I’ll coach him up, and then he does the same thing for me”.
The NFL season is less than a month away but the Jaguars still have ample time to make a decision at right tackle. Having said that, the sooner they do it, the better, as they will give their starting offensive line time to gel.