AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In order to be a playoff team or have a chance to compete for a Super Bowl, you have to have great players. The Jacksonville Jaguars don't have any that qualify -- yet.

Marks
ESPN Insider Mike Sando believes there are a few on the way. Sando included four Jaguars players on his list of top 50 NFL breakout players in 2014 (Insider content): safety Johnathan Cyprien, running back Toby Gerhart, defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, and offensive tackle Luke Joeckel.

Cyprien, a second-year safety from Florida International, came in at No. 5 on Sando's list, the highest spot of the four. Two other players were in the top 25 while another was in the top 40.

Marks is an interesting choice for the list because he could have qualified as a breakout player in 2013. He set career highs in sacks (four), pass breakups (eight), forced fumbles (two),and fumble recoveries (three). He did that while playing way too many snaps, too. But the addition of Ziggy Hood via free agency and a health Roy Miller alongside him should reduce the number of snaps he plays in 2014, which, theoretically will keep him fresher and therefore even more effective.

Sando had a few rules in picking the top 50: No rookies, no player who was ranked in the #NFLRank Top 100 (an ongoing series ranking the top 100 players on offense and defense), no older players, and avoid players who have signed a lucrative second contract.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Marcedes Lewis has said numerous times that he has had his best offseason and is in the best shape of his career.

That has been evident with the way he has performed in training camp and the first two preseason games. He’s catching nearly everything thrown his way and his role in the offense has been as prominent as it was at the end of the 2013 season.

Lewis
But as reliable and valuable as Lewis has been, there are that many questions about the players behind him.

Clay Harbor, who caught 24 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns last season, has been out with a calf injury since July 28, and when he will return to practice is unclear. There is hope that he will return for the Sept. 7 season opener.

"It’s doing a lot better," said Harbor, who suffered a partial tear of his calf muscle. "I’m working toward hopefully Philadelphia game Week 1. That’s what the plan is, and if everything keeps going well then that’s what I’m going to try to do, get ready for that week and try my best to play."

Harbor is the only other tight end on the roster that has caught a pass in an NFL game, leaving the Jaguars with undrafted rookies Marcel Jensen and D.J. Tialavea and second-year player Branden Barden, who played in three games with Tennessee in 2010.

Barden and Jensen are essentially fighting to be the third tight end because the Jaguars will only keep three on the 53-man roster. The one that doesn’t make it is likely headed for the practice squad, and right now that looks to be Jensen. Tialavea appears to be the odd man out.

"I think Barden is having a real nice camp," offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. "It’s fun to see him compete. He’s smart, has good experience and is catching the ball actually really well this camp."

Barden signed with Tennessee as an undrafted free agent in 2012 after a five-year career at Vanderbilt, ended up on the Titans’ practice squad, and then was signed to the active roster and played in three games that season. The Titans waived him after another stint on the practice squad and the Jaguars signed him to their practice squad last November.

Jensen is an undrafted free agent from Fresno State. He caught the staff’s eye during organized team activities and minicamp after making a few catches. He is intriguing because of his size (6-foot-6, 270 pounds) and length, but he is a raw talent and has been relatively anonymous in training camp.

"I thought that was another great acquisition there to get a guy like him," Fisch said. "I think there’s some good upside there with him."

Potential is nice, but the Jaguars need production behind Lewis, especially if Harbor can’t return for the season opener.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars coaches and players have talked about rookie quarterback Blake Bortles' development for weeks.

They’ve mentioned his knowledge of the offense, his ability to make the correct read, and how accurate he has been during the first two preseason games. That’s been proven by the fact that he has completed 64 percent of his passes for 277 yards, numbers that could be even higher considering three of his 10 incompletions have been drops.

Bortles’ rate of progress goes beyond stats, though, and one play in the Jaguars’ 20-19 loss to Chicago last Thursday captured it perfectly: His 29-yard hookup with receiver Kerry Taylor down the left sideline.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bortles
AP Photo/Andrew NellesBlake Bortles has passed for 277 yards in the Jaguars' first two preseason games combined.
The throw was perfect, right in front of Taylor and over the shoulder of Bears cornerback Demontre Hurst. It was thrown where only Taylor could catch it.

"Kerry did a great job of getting off the line and beating his guy and getting downfield," Bortles said. "There was good protection. I was able to get him the ball."

It was a little more intricate than that. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch had a run play called, but when Bortles got the line of scrimmage he saw the Bears were expecting run and had loaded the box. He audibled to a pass play, saw Taylor was in one-on-one coverage, and signaled the route Taylor should run.

When he took the shotgun snap, Bortles’ first option was receiver Mike Brown on the right side of the field. The second option was tight end Brandon Barden. Both were covered, so Bortles came back to the left side, saw Taylor had a step on the corner, and let it fly.

"He was able to see the coverage ahead of time, not during the snap but pre-snap," Fisch said. "He was able to get the indicators that he was looking for and then get the check and signal it properly and get those mechanics. That was a big play.

"… I think that shows a guy with great confidence. So, that part of it is fun, but he just has to continue to build and learn."

So, to recap: He recognized the offense was in a bad play for the defensive alignment, audibled to a pass play, and hit his third read for a big gain. That’s something with which some veteran quarterbacks struggle, but Bortles, in just his second professional game, nailed it.

"He’s definitely advanced," said Taylor, who caught three passes against the Bears. "He studies and he gets the reps in practice and does what he’s supposed to do. When we get out to the game we have trust in him that he can go out there and make those things happen.

"For him to see that and see the reads and see what’s there and what’s not there, it’s great for him, it’s great for our offense. It just shows that we have multiple quarterbacks that can get the job done."

This doesn’t mean Bortles is ready to become the Jaguars’ starting quarterback. He still hasn’t played with the first-team offense or faced a first-team defense -- that comes Friday when he gets about a quarter of work against Detroit -- and he is continuing to improve footwork and fundamental issues that were never addressed when he was at Central Florida.

But Bortles is clearly ahead of where most rookie quarterbacks would be at this point in their development. He certainly is ahead of Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater.

"I don’t think I really went in with any preconceived notions on where he was going to be," Fisch said. "Obviously, we were excited when we drafted him, so we thought he was going to be a very good player. We’re still excited on how he has progressed. I think it’s a situation now where each day we are just looking for improvement, and he has challenged himself to get better every day. So, really I’m not exactly sure where I expect him to be, so he is doing well for where he is at."
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Stubbornness is usually a bad quality in a football coach. Whether it’s refusing to alter a scheme to fit what players do best or insisting on certain play calls in certain situations, the results usually don’t match the desired outcome.

For Gus Bradley and the Jacksonville Jaguars, however, it appears that being stubborn now could be one of the best decisions in franchise history.

Bradley’s insistence on sticking with veteran Chad Henne as the team’s starting quarterback might be one of the big reasons rookie Blake Bortles has progressed as quickly as he has over the past month. Bradley, along with offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and general manager David Caldwell, believes that not having the pressure of trying to win the starting job has helped Bortles get ahead of schedule in his development.

"I think the environment has allowed him to do some good things," Bradley said Friday afternoon. "And I think he’s in an environment, in a place, where his full attention is just truly working on some of his weaknesses, and we’re seeing progress being made with that."

The Jaguars signed Henne to a two-year, $4 million extension in March and -- two months before the draft -- declared him the starter regardless of which quarterback they drafted. They were NOT going to play a rookie. Bradley and Caldwell stuck with that even after they drafted Bortles with the third overall pick. Bortles is the franchise’s quarterback of the future, but Henne is the franchise’s quarterback in 2014.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bortles
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastBlake Bortles has been impressive in his first two preseason games.
Bradley and Caldwell said it over and over and over again. Not many, however, believed them. Fans, media, draft analysts, football analysts (some of whom are former players and coaches) had similar reactions: You’re going with a journeyman QB, who has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in his NFL career, over the No. 3 overall pick? That doesn’t make sense.

Not everyone believed it, but it clearly was the majority opinion.

That has only intensified because Bortles has torn it up in the first two preseason games. He has completed 18 of 28 passes for 277 yards, and three of the 10 incompletions were drops. He has exhibited poise in the pocket, made crisp throws and good reads, and found second and third options. He hasn’t turned the ball over, either.

All because he’s not the starter.

The Jaguars believe that committing to Henne as the starter has put Bortles in a situation that has allowed him to learn the offense faster, begin to fix some fundamental and footwork issues, and make quicker-than-anticipated strides. They may be correct. It’s much easier to make progress when you’re not under pressure to reach a certain level by a certain date. Relaxed learning generally produces better results than someone standing over your shoulder pushing you ahead.

That’s why Bradley isn’t budging. Henne will be the starter when the Jaguars open the season at Philadelphia on Sept. 7. Bortles will be the backup. He’ll have to know the game plan and be ready to go into the game if needed, but his No. 1 priority is to continue to progress.

The Jaguars will eventually make the change, though. Bortles’ development will hit the point where he gives the team a better chance to win games than Henne. Maybe it will be next season. Maybe it will be after the bye. Maybe it will be Week 4. No one knows when the rookie will reach that point, but the Jaguars believe not pushing him to get there will make it arrive sooner.

And they’re being stubborn about it.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said this past week that rookie quarterback Blake Bortles was eventually going to get reps with the first-team offense, both in practice and in a preseason game.

It needs to be done this week.

After back-to-back impressive performances against Tampa Bay and Chicago, Bortles could be on the verge of changing the franchise's mind about going with veteran Chad Henne as the starter. The only way to know for sure whether it would be a good idea to reverse course and plug Bortles in right away is by seeing how he handles himself with the first-team offense while playing against a first-team defense.

Bortles completed 11 of 17 passes for 160 yards in the Jaguars' 20-19 loss to Chicago on Thursday night and is 18-for-28 for 277 yards in two preseason games. Bortles has looked poised and confident, has made some tough throws and has not locked onto his primary receiver. However, all of that work has come with the second-team offense against second-team defenses, and that doesn't give a true picture of just how ready Bortles is to play.

Why not?

Blaine Gabbert went 35-for-70 for 365 yards and one touchdown with one interception in his four preseason games as a rookie in 2011. Solid but not great numbers, but it was enough to convince the coaching staff that it could get by with Luke McCown and Gabbert as the two quarterbacks. Then Gabbert went out and threw 12 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions and guided the Jaguars to a 5-11 record. They scored more than 20 points in a game just once.

That's not to imply a comparison between Bortles and Gabbert. Bortles has looked far better than Gabbert did as a rookie in the preseason, but it's clear the game is played at a different speed in the regular season, when the first-teamers are on the field for the entire game. That's why Bortles needs first-team reps.

This week.

The Jaguars' reserves couldn't hold a lead and gave up a touchdown with less than a minute remaining to lose 20-19 to the host Chicago Bears, but the team got a victory with the way quarterback Chad Henne and the first-team offense played.

Henne and the first-team offense produced 166 yards and 13 points in four possessions. That's in stark contrast to their performance in the preseason opener against Tampa Bay, when they managed just 4 net yards in four possessions.

Henne completed 12 of 17 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown, a 6-yard hookup with rookie receiver Marqise Lee. It was the kind of performance he needed to ease some of enthusiasm surrounding rookie quarterback Blake Bortles' debut against the Bucs (7-of-11, 117 yards).

The offense controlled the game in the first quarter, running 28 plays and totaling 161 yards. The Bears ran just five plays.

Bortles also had a good night, completing 11 of 17 passes for 160 yards, although 45 yards came on the final play of the first half on a hookup with receiver Allen Hurns.

Here are some other thoughts on the Jaguars' second preseason game of the year:
  • The Jaguars continue to tinker with the center position, rotating players by quarter. Mike Brewster started and had an up-and-down first quarter. He didn't have any errant shotgun snaps but he was late with one snap that resulted in a false start penalty and he also got bulldozed by defensive tackle Stephen Paea on a play that resulted in a sack. Sixth-round pick Luke Bowanko played the second quarter. He left the game with an injury to his ankle and knee while playing right guard in the third quarter. Third-round pick Brandon Linder snapped in the third and fourth quarters.
  • Starting right tackle Austin Pasztor also left the game with a hand injury. Coach Gus Bradley is scheduled to meet with the media on Friday afternoon so we'll get an update on Pasztor and Bowanko then.
  • Toby Gerhart's Jaguars debut ended with 19 yards rushing on six carries. He had runs of 18 and 6 yards but lost 5 yards on his other four carries. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has emphasized the need for the backs to be patient, telling them the nature of the run game in the NFL means a lot of short gains supplemented by one or two bigger gains. That's what happened with Gerhart, who as a veteran understands that better than the younger backs.
  • The first-team offensive line still struggled to create space on the outside zone plays. The breakdowns aren't all from the middle of the line, either. Left tackle Luke Joeckel got knocked on his rear by Bears linebacker Jon Bostic, who ended up tackling Gerhart for a 4-yard loss.
  • It doesn't really show up on the stat sheet, but rookie linebacker Telvin Smith has been responsible for forcing turnovers in both preseason games. He tipped a Jimmy Clausen pass that safety Josh Evans intercepted on Thursday night. In the preseason opener against Tampa Bay, Smith pressured Josh McCown into a poor throw that safety Winston Guy intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
  • Running back Denard Robinson made a statement to be involved in the offense, rushing for a team-high 34 yards on six carries. … Running back Jordan Todman had a blitz pickup on Bostic, giving Henne an extra second to complete a pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis for a 20-yard gain. … Defensive end Tyson Alualu has recorded sacks in each preseason game.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars signed veteran free agent center Antoine Caldwell and waived injured center Matt Stankiewitch on Wednesday afternoon.

Though the Jaguars have been having issues at center, this move isn’t being done with the intent of having Caldwell compete with starter Mike Brewster. Caldwell was with the Jaguars in May during the team’s rookie minicamp on a tryout basis and the team declined to sign him then, opting to instead go into training camp with Brewster, Jacques McClendon, Stankiewitch and Patrick Lewis.

Brewster had two errant shotgun snaps in the Jaguars’ preseason opener against Tampa Bay last week, and there is concern about his strength at the point of attack. McClendon has gotten first-team reps during practice this week, and the Jaguars also have worked rookies Brandon Linder and Luke Bowanko at center on the second and third teams. Linder was drafted as a guard but played three games at center at Miami. Bowanko started 20 games at center at Virginia.

Houston drafted Caldwell in the third round of the 2009 draft and he played in 39 games (19 starts) with the Texans from 2009-12. He spent time in training camp with Buffalo last summer but was waived during the final cuts and spent the 2013 season out of football.

Caldwell was a four-year starter at guard and center for Alabama and was a first-team All-American as a senior in 2008.

Stankiewitch has a wrist injury. If he clears waivers, he will be placed on the Jaguars' IR.

Jaguars Camp Report: Day 14

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
5:00
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp.
  • I've been critical of the Jaguars' receivers for dropping a lot of passes, but the group had perhaps its best day of camp on Tuesday. Chad Bumphis had a ball go off his hands for an interception, but that was pretty much the only negative from the group. Newly-signed Ramses Barden made two great catches on back-to-back plays on throws from Stephen Morris. The 6-foot-7 Barden was covered pretty well by 6-2 cornerback Jeremy Harris, but Barden put his body between Harris and the ball and made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone. He followed that up by making a diving catch in the end zone in which he beat cornerback Dwayne Gratz. Kerry Taylor also made a nice grab despite slipping out of his break.
  • It appears Brandon Barden has moved closer to the No. 2 tight end spot behind starter Marcedes Lewis while Clay Harbor remains out with a calf injury. Brandon Barden was the team's leading receiver in the scrimmage (five catches), although he missed the preseason opener with an illness. However, he hurt himself a bit Tuesday when he had a catchable ball bounce off his hands in the red zone. Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds had the ball bounce into his stomach but he couldn't hold on for the interception.
  • Blake Bortles threw a couple of passes into the wind during team drills that fluttered badly. The first wasn't even close to being a completion. The second was completed but there wasn't much zip on the throw. According to Weather.com, there were winds of up to 15 mph during the time the Jaguars were on the field. When the Jaguars flipped direction, Bortles' passes were tighter and didn't flutter. In fact, he threw his best pass of the day with the wind, dropping a deep sideline pass over the corner for a completion to Bumphis.
  • Harris had an interception for the second time in as many days. He grabbed the ball that deflected off Bumphis' hands. He has played well during camp but coach Gus Bradley said he wants to see Harris perform better on special teams.
  • If you're trying to make an impression on the coaches to have a shot to make the roster, then out-fighting safety Johnathan Cyprien for a ball is a good way to do it. That's what recently-signed tight end Fendi Onobun did. Cyprien banged into Onobun while they were jumping for a pass in the end zone but Onobun managed to hang on for a touchdown. Cyprien was penalized for pass interference.
  • The Jaguars continued to get other players reps at center in addition to Mike Brewster and Jacques McClendon. Rookie Brandon Linder snapped for the second consecutive day and rookie Luke Bowanko also worked at center.
  • The Jaguars will return to the practice field on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ET. It is closed to the public.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Blake Bortles is going to have to wait a bit longer to follow up his impressive debut for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Coach Gus Bradley announced Tuesday Chad Henne will play the first half of Thursday's preseason game at Chicago and Bortles will play the second half. That falls in line with Bradley's statement last Saturday that Bortles wouldn't get reps with the first-team offense this week.

It also reinforces the fact Henne remains the team's starting quarterback and Bortles still has some work to do.

For Henne, it's another chance to develop some rhythm with the first-team offense, which is something that didn't happen in the Jaguars' 16-10 victory over Tampa Bay last Friday night. The first-team offense managed just 5 yards in four possessions, including 27 yards in losses on errant shotgun snaps. Henne completed 4 of 7 passes for 30 yards.

"It's just about setting the tempo, really pushing the guys to get into a nice rhythm out there," Henne said. "I watched the Denver Broncos and they really moved the ball and it was all because of positive plays on first and second down and keeping that tempo and I think if we establish that and really get into our full offense out there, we'll be successful."

The second-team offense was much more effective -- but it came against the Bucs' second-team defense, which rushed more than four players just once. Bortles entered the game with 9:51 remaining in the first half and completed 7 of 11 passes for 117 yards and looked poised and comfortable in the pocket. Three of his four incompletions were drops.

"There was good things. There was bad things. There was things to work on," said Bortles, who was on the field for the Jaguars' only possession in the third quarter before giving way to Ricky Stanzi. "A couple decisions, a couple throws here and there [need to better]. But I thought for the most part we did what we wanted to do. We got some up-tempo and were moving the ball a little bit."

Thursday's game should be more of a challenge for Bortles provided the Bears come with more pressures than the Bucs did.

"That'll be cool," Bortles said. "For the most part preseason games are pretty vanilla. I guess guys don't really want to show a whole lot. But I'm sure being the second week they'll probably have more in than they did the previous week and maybe do some different things. We'll try and prepare and be ready for it."

Jaguars Camp Report: Day 13

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
3:45
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars' training camp.
  • The Jaguars continue to express confidence in center Mike Brewster, who had two poor shotgun snaps over quarterback Chad Henne's head against Tampa Bay last Friday, but guard Jacques McClendon got first-team reps at center during one 11-on-11 period on Monday. McClendon has been competing with rookie Brandon Linder for the starting job at right guard. Brewster will still be the starter when the Jaguars play at Chicago on Thursday night, though. "We saw some good things on tape from [Brewster]," coach Gus Bradley said. "I know the glaring things were the snaps. But we saw some good things, so he'll be our center going into this game. We're always going to try to find out who's doing well in different situations. If nothing else it creates more depth." McClendon actually has one more snap in a regular-season game than Brewster: He snapped the ball on Brad Meester's pass reception last season. That's the only snap in a regular-season game for either player.
  • Toby Gerhart (hip flexor) worked off to the side on Monday but the team announced there is a chance that he and reserve linebacker J.T. Thomas (hamstring) will participate in Tuesday's practice. Gerhart hasn't practiced since Aug. 6. The Jaguars are being cautious with Gerhart because they don't want to risk a long-term injury to the player they signed to be their feature back.
  • The Jaguars continue to tinker with lineups along the offensive line. When McClendon was snapping with the first unit, Linder was lined up at right guard. Linder also snapped with the second-team offense with rookie Luke Bowanko at right guard and rookie Josh Wells at left tackle. Bowanko and Wells had been working with the third unit.
  • The receivers continue to be plagued by drops. Kerry Taylor, Kenny Shaw and Marqise Lee both dropped catchable balls and Taylor also dropped a punt. Taylor, though, rebounded with two nice grabs later in practice, including a diving catch in 11-on-11. Mike Brown, who had two drops against the Bucs, made a really nice catch in 7-on-7 in which he grabbed the ball with his hands away from his body while cornerback Demetrius McCray was on his back.
  • The Jaguars ran more blitz periods Monday and it affected rookie Blake Bortles. He wasn't as sharp as he was against the Bucs, when he completed 7 of 11 passes for 117 yards against almost exclusively a four-man rush. On Monday, Bortles forced a ball into coverage that was nearly intercepted by linebacker Telvin Smith and then threw late on a sideline pattern to running back Storm Johnson and cornerback Jeremy Harris jumped the throw and took it back for a touchdown.
  • The Jaguars will return to the practice field on Tuesday at 9:55 a.m. ET. It is the last practice open to the public.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley clarified his comments about rookie receiver Marqise Lee's effort, saying the second-round pick’s effort was fine and he only failed to run hard on one route during the Jaguars’ 16-10 victory over Tampa Bay last Friday night.

Lee was confused about what he was supposed to do on a come-back route and hesitated. Bradley said Lee’s effort was fine when he was on the field.

"A couple of things that came up where he just was unsure of positioning of the defense and how he should attack the route, so it’s just a little bit of confusion on his part that we got cleared up," Bradley said following Monday’s practice. "Like I said, he is extremely focused, really, really competitive, really driven and I thought today he came out and he used those things and he learned from it and he got better. He was great."

Lee has been the Jaguars’ best rookie in training camp and had been working with the first-team offense pretty much exclusively since camp began. He was on the field for 16 snaps against the Bucs but wasn’t targeted. When Bradley was asked the day after the game if he was disappointed that Lee wasn’t involved in the offense, Bradley responded by saying that Lee was inconsistent with the effort with which he ran routes.

"Run your routes like every time it’s coming to you," Bradley said Saturday. "You can’t change speeds. You can’t decide when and when not to, but I’ve told you before that I’ve seen him switch a switch where he’s more focused."

Bradley was only talking about one route but didn’t make that clear until Monday.

"I got specific," Bradley said. "That was on me. I got specific on one play where he was supposed to run a comeback. And he ran it. It was never an effort [issue], but he was more confused on how the defender was playing him so he just didn’t run it full speed because of that. But he’s got to learn from that, learn to run full speed and take it."
Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
General manager David Caldwell has said he likes to keep three quarterbacks, but that could change if Bortles continues to progress in the preseason. Bortles is already the No. 2 but would the Jaguars go with him as the starter if Henne were to get injured early in the season? Or would Stanzi be a better choice in that scenario? Stephen Morris is a practice squad candidate.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

If the Jags elect to keep only four backs, Robinson and Johnson likely would battle for the final spot. Though he didn't have great stats in the presesaon opener against Tampa Bay (5 yards on five carries), Todman has had a good camp. Robinson showed off his speed on a 23-yard touchdown run and he can be a valuable option if the Jaguars use him on the edge instead of running him between the tackles. Johnson has to prove he can pass block and doesn't have problems with ball security.

RECEVIERS (6)

With Ace Sanders taking a leave of absence for personal issues and then facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, an additional spot opens up. Tandon Doss, whom the team signed as a free agent in March, suffered a severely sprained ankle and is out for the foreseeable future. Doss missed most of the organized team activities and minicamp because of a calf injury, allowing Kerry Taylor, Chad Bumphis and Hurns to get valuable reps. Thomas has passed Taylor, who has had trouble with drops, for the final spot.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jensen flashed potential during OTAs and gets the edge over three other players. He's a big kid (6-6, 270) who is a raw version of Lewis, one of the league's best blocking tight ends. Jensen will need a year or two to develop and likely will be used as an extra blocker more than a pass-catcher. If Harbor's calf injury keeps him out of camp, he could start the season on the PUP list. That would open a spot for Brandon Barden.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

Some of the battles for starting jobs along the line are going to be intriguing during camp. Joeckel and Beadles are safe, but every other spot is up for grabs. Pasztor, who started 12 games last season, shows no sign of being bothered by his surgically repaired shoulder. McClendon and Linder are battling for the right guard spot, and Brewster is going to have to hold off McClendon to be the starter at center. Bradfield has value because he can play both tackle spots.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

This should be the biggest upgraded position on the roster thanks to the additions of Clemons, Bryant and Hood. Despite public perception, Alualu isn't on the bubble for two reasons: He played solidly last season, and there really isn't anyone else on the roster as talented as he is to back up Bryant. The Jags are excited about Smith, who could end up playing more than Davis as the No. 3 LEO (hybrid end/linebacker) by the time the season is over.

LINEBACKERS (6)
J.T. Thomas could stick if the Jaguars decide to keep an extra linebacker instead of five cornerbacks, or if Hayes' surgically repaired knee doesn't respond well. Stupar has had a solid camp and remains Posluszny's top backup. Reynolds did a solid job subbing for Watson (groin) during OTAs and minicamp at the new OTTO position (replaces strongside linebacker).

CORNERBACKS (5)

The Jags will have to decide whether to keep fourth-year player Mike Harris or Jeremy Harris, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a back injury. The 6-2, 185-pound Jeremy Harris is a better fit for what coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks than the 5-10, 188-pound Mike Harris, who was a member of former GM Gene Smith's final draft class. Blackmon has been working inside as well, which also makes Mike Harris expendable. Fourth-round draft pick Aaron Colvin will begin the season on the PUP list and doesn't count against the roster limit.

SAFETIES (4)
Chris Prosinski has seemingly been a bubble player since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011, but there is too much competition for him to survive this time. I thought Sherrod Martin would have an edge over Young and several other players because of his experience (he started 36 games for Carolina in his first five seasons) but Young has been working with the second unit ahead of Martin. Evans seems to be the name everyone mentions when talking about the first Caldwell draft pick to get cut, but though he might lose his starting job to Guy, he's likely to stick around at least another year.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These guys should have little or no competition to make the roster.

Jaguars wake-up call: Day 13

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
7:00
AM ET
Every day of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp we'll have a wake-up call that previews the day ahead.

9:55 a.m. ET -- Practice (open to the public).
Approx. 12:15 p.m. ET -- Jaguars coach Gus Bradley news conference.

Here are some of the story lines we'll be following:

Bradley said Saturday that rookie receiver Marqise Lee didn't play with consistent effort in the preseason opener against Tampa Bay. Specifically, Lee didn't run every route with the same effort. Bradley made those comments after open locker room so today is the first day we'll be able to talk to Lee about it.

The first-team offensive linemen struggled against the Bucs. They weren't getting consistent push and had trouble with zone blocking, which is something the Jaguars struggled with last season, too. Center Mike Brewster also had two errant shotgun snaps. Let's see how the unit responds after having several days to stew over their mistakes.

Running back Toby Gerhart is scheduled to test his injured hip flexor this morning. If he responds well he could be back on the practice field this week and get a few reps against Chicago on Thursday night.

 
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars fans are undoubtedly optimistic about rookie quarterback Blake Bortles after his performance in Friday night’s preseason opener against Tampa Bay, but they’re going to have to wait a little longer to see him with the first-team offense.

Coach Gus Bradley said Saturday afternoon that it’s not going to happen this week in practice or in the Jaguars’ preseason game at Chicago on Thursday.

[+] EnlargeBortles
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsBlake Bortles had a promising preseason debut, but the Jaguars are sticking to their plan.
"I told you yesterday we have the philosophy of getting our ones in there -- like [Allen] Hurns, Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, [Brandon] Linder, Chris Smith -- and he’s going to get reps with the ones," Bradley said. "It’s just I wouldn’t count on it this week."

Bortles completed 7 of 11 passes for 117 yards while playing with the second-team offense in the Jaguars’ 16-10 victory over the Bucs. Three of his four incompletions were drops, including two by Mike Brown. Bradley was certainly pleased with the way Bortles played but made the point that it came against the Bucs’ second-team defense, which pretty much stuck to basics.

"I thought he played with really good poise, good command -- but it’s a little bit unrealistic," Bradley said. “I think there was one blitz from Tampa the whole day, one pressure. So it was all four-man rush and good protection.

"I think it’s kind of what we had hoped to see from him: the poise, the command of the offense, doing what we expected him to do. Showed some toughness. Took a hit. Made some really good throws. His timing, accuracy, decision-making, it was good."

Some other takeaways from Saturday:

  • Rookie receiver Marqise Lee was not a factor against the Bucs. In fact, he wasn’t even targeted in the passing game with the first-team offense, and it apparently had a lot to do with his effort. Bradley indicated that Lee wasn’t consistent with the way he ran routes. "One of the things we’re looking at is the consistency," Bradley said. "Run your routes like every time it’s coming to you. You can’t change speeds. You can’t decide when and when not to, but I’ve told you before that I’ve seen him switch a switch where he’s more focused. I’d like to visit with him about what happened yesterday. He did play good, but I just think that he could have done some things even more precise. It wasn’t exactly where we need it to be."
  • Bradley said running back Toby Gerhart (hip flexor) could return to practice this week. Gerhart ran on Saturday morning and the training staff wants to see how sore he is on Monday. If Gerhart responds well, he’ll run again Monday and could return to the practice field in time to get a few reps against Chicago on Thursday.
  • Receivers Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and Allen Robinson (hamstring) will miss the Chicago game. Bradley said Shorts is further along in his rehab than Robinson, but there is still no timetable for a return to practice for either. Cornerback Alan Ball (ankle) will be back on the field doing individual drills on Monday.
  • There were only two injuries in Friday night’s game. Guard Zane Beadles has a sprained thumb and will wear a cast on his hand for a couple weeks but will not miss any practice time. Receiver Lamaar Thomas suffered a concussion on Friday night.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There wasn’t anything that could make Mike Brewster feel better about his debut performance as the Jaguars’ starting center.

One text helped ease his mind a bit, though.

Brewster
Brewster had a pair of high-shot snaps -- one on a third down and another on a fourth down -- that ended up costing the Jaguars 37 yards, and the former Ohio State standout was angry and frustrated with himself after the Jaguars’ 16-10 victory over Tampa Bay. Then he picked up his phone and saw the text from LaCharles Bentley, a two-time Pro Bowl NFL center who now runs a training center in Ohio for offensive linemen.

"He was, like, ‘First preseason game at center same thing happened to me two times,’" Brewster said. "So that was the only thing that made me feel a little better.

"It just hasn’t been a problem. It kind of came out of nowhere."

That’s what makes what happened Friday night somewhat palatable. Brewster hasn’t had issues with the snap in OTAs, minicamp or training camp. He said he had one bad snap during camp when the ball slipped out of his hand, but it’s not like balls have been regularly sailing over quarterback Chad Henne’s head.

Brewster said the ones that did on Friday night were because he fired the ball back too hard -- and that may have been the result of nerves. He was making his first start at center since Ohio State and Florida played on the same field in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on Jan. 1, 2012.

"There was a little jitters and stuff -- I’m not going to lie," he said. "It was good to get that one out of the way."

There already were some concerns about Brewster’s ability to take over for Brad Meester as the starter. That’s why the Jaguars went after restricted free agent Alex Mack, signing the two-time Pro Bowler to a five-year, $42 million ($26 million guaranteed) contract. When Cleveland promptly matched the offer, the Jaguars decided to stick with Brewster and hope he improved his lower-body strength and run blocking.

Reviews have been mixed on the latter two areas and the poor snaps only added to the anxiety of whether Brewster can handle the job. But at this point the Jaguars don’t really have any other options, unless they move Jacques McClendon -- who is battling with rookie Brandon Linder for the starting job at right guard -- to center. There aren’t any starting centers just waiting for a phone call.

"We’re going to continue to grow with him and challenge him, but just like with all of our guys we need to see improvement," coach Gus Bradley said. "We still have faith in him."

Brewster was confident he won’t have any issues with his snaps any longer.

"Obviously if it was something that continued to happen, then it would be a problem," he said. "I don’t foresee that happening."

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