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Jacksonville Jaguars

2018 Jaguars Training Camp: Three Players With The Most To Prove

Zach Goodall

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Dec 24, 2017; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (12) catches the ball against San Francisco 49ers strong safety Eric Reid (35) during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp is just around the corner, and the Jacksonville Jaguars head into camp with one of the strongest rosters in the NFL.

However, every roster has it’s question marks. Will player X make a jump in production this year? Does player Y fit better at another position? Can player Z unseat a player ahead of him for a roster spot?

The Jaguars are no different, as several players have much to prove with the 2018 season on our doorstep. With that being said, who has the most to prove during the 2018 training camp period, and why?

WR Dede Westbrook

Jun 14, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (12) walks to the field during mini camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The second year receiver will undoubtebly have a role in the Jaguars’ offense, as well as special teams, this year. The question is, how big will said role(s) be?

Westbrook flashed during his rookie season as a possession receiver moreso than the deep-threat fans expected him to be after he was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He finished the year with 27 receptions for 339 yards (12.6 yards per catch) and a touchdown in the final seven games of the season, after missing the first nine with a core muscle injury.

His game changing speed and potential as both a receiver and a special teamer will keep Westbrook around for a while, but after a big shakeup in the Jaguars’ wide receiver room this year, it’s unclear how much playing time Westbrook will receive. Out with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, in with Donte Moncrief and D.J. Chark: No one is quite sure how the depth chart will look heading into week one.

Keelan Cole, who finished his rookie season (as an undrafted free agent, mind you) with 42 catches for 748 yards (17.8 YPC) and three touchdowns, will likely be the team’s No. 1 deep threat, and if he can continue to progress as a route runner, he can unseat Marqise Lee as the team’s first receiver. While few would ever consider Lee to be a No. 1 talent, he has four years of chemistry with quarterback Blake Bortles and signed a four year, $34 million extension with the team in March. He best serves in the underneath passing game, but he will be on the field for the majority of the team’s offensive snaps.

Chark will likely easy into the offense, as he is unpolished as a route runner and has some technical issues to clean up, but his 4.34 speed at 6-3, 200 lbs presents a freaky matchup nightmare if he is developed well. The Jaguars signed Moncrief to a one year, “prove-it” contract worth $9.6 million, and he will be a factor in the redzone passing game and as a 50-50 ball-type of receiver.

Westbrook has a ton of talent and potential to thrive in Jacksonville’s offense. However, since the Jaguars’  receiver corps is filled with different styles of receivers, Westbrook will need to establish himself in his own way during training camp in order to receive the amount of snaps that fans are hoping he will get this year.

DT Abry Jones

Nov 12, 2017; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones (95) runs down field followed by Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Russell Okung (76) during the second half at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps I’m not giving Abry Jones enough credit for the job he’s done during his five years in Jacksonville, considering the team gave him a four year, $15.5 million extension just last year. But, like Westbrook, there’s a lot of talent in Jones’ position group that could affect Jones’ playing time.

While Jones was a contributor in the team’s pass rush from the nose tackle position, he wasn’t the strongest run defender. The Jaguars’ addressed this midseason in trading a fifth round pick to the Buffalo Bills for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who eventually split time with Jones at nose tackle as well as moved around to the 3-tech defensive tackle position.

Dareus is still with the team, and should see a bigger role with the team after a full offseason in Jacksonville. Considering how much he helped the team’s run defense and his Pro Bowl résumé, fans have started to forget about Abry Jones. He will likely enter the 2018 season as a backup and in a rotational role, unlike how he began 2017 as a starter.

However, perhaps this will light a fire under the homegrown, former undrafted free agent. The Jaguars defensive line is far from thin, with Calais Campbell receiving snaps inside as well. 2018 first round draft pick Taven Bryan is mainly receiving reps at defensive end, but he played defnesive tackle at the University of Florida, and could see some playing time inside early on for the Jaguars as well.

With competition all around him, Jones has a lot to prove as a run defender and needs to continue to generate pressure in the pass rush in order to maintain a big tole in the Jaguars’ defense this year and for years to come.

RG A.J. Cann

Jun 14, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) takes a snap as offensive guard A.J. Cann (60) watches during mini camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Fans have been calling for competition and/or a replacement for Cann at right guard since his down-2016 season, and after the team signed LG Andrew Norwell to a five year, $66.5 million deal in free agency this year, Cann has undoubtebly become the weak link along the Jaguars’ offensive line.

Cann performed a little better in 2017 compared to 2016, but he is still inconsistent as a run blocker and has seemed out of position at right guard compared to his four years as the South Carolina Gamecocks’ starting left guard, where he was a second team All-American and first team All-SEC in 2014.

Unlike last year, however, it seems like Cann has some true com[petition during the offseason program heading into the 2018 season. Josh Walker received first team reps in OTAs and mini-camp in Cann’s absence due to an undisclosed injury, and could very well challenge Cann for his starting gig in training camp. Fourth round draft pick Will Richardson and interior lineman Tyler Shatley could be involved in the camp battle as well.

Assuming Cann recovers from his injury before camp kicks off, he needs to give it all he’s got before the regular season comes along. His job is likely the least safe across the entire roster. If ever there was a time for him to live up to the hype that got him selected by the Jaguars in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, that time is now.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for the Locked On Jaguars podcast and website. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 NFL Draft: Jacksonville Jaguars Senior Bowl Wish-List

Zach Goodall

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Sep 21, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; UCF Knights running back Taj McGowan (4) reacts after his rushing touchdown during the second half against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Spectrum Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Senior Bowl, an annual NFL Draft prospect all-star game in Mobile, Alabama, has sent out its first wave of invitations for their 2019 exhibition. NFL scouts from every team will be in attendance, as the NCAA’s best senior football players will be putting their abilities on display.

Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has a strong history of liking Senior Bowl prospects. Last year, the team drafted two players they watched in Mobile in WR D.J. Chark (2nd round) from LSU and QB Tanner Lee (6th round) from Nebraska. Caldwell has also selected DE Dawuane Smoot, TE Ben Koyack, OL Brandon Linder, LB Telvin Smith, CB Aaron Colvin, RB Denard Robinson, CB Dwayne Gratz, and SS Johnathan Cyprien after watching them at the bowl game.

The 2019 Senior Bowl will be packed with talent that the Jaguars will need to keep a close eye on. Chris Thornton and I will be attending the week of practice and game, reporting on who the Jaguars meet with and eyeing prospects to watch for for the 2019 NFL Draft.

As invites continue to go out and get accepted, here is my wish-list of players who should be at the Senior Bowl, from a Jaguars need and fit perspective. For players who I haven’t watched in depth yet, I trust the scouts of The Draft Network’s analysis and have linked their scouting reports.

QB: Daniel Jones, Duke

There will be plenty of intriguing QB prospects in Mobile, and if Daniel Jones can graduate on time as a redshirt junior, he may be the most intriguing of the pack. The three-year starter comes from the Manning branch of QBs, as his head coach David Cutcliffe coached both Peyton and Eli during their college days and has the brothers attend the Duke offseason program yearly.

Jones is a West-Coast passing offense fit, which meshes perfectly with what the Jaguars run in a power-run offense. Jones doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as passers such as Justin Herbert (Oregon) and Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), which drops his stock for me to the late first/early second round, but in what is regarded generall as a weak QB class, Jones could skyrocket up draft boards this offseason. Here is an in-depth scouting report that I did on Jones last week.

RB: Taj McGowan, UCF

Taj McGowan has never been a starter during his four-year career at UCF, but he’s flashed enough to warrant a prospect bowl invitation for teams to see more of what he offers. The 6-1, 209 lb senior RB runs with a bruising style, and receives the buld of UCF’s goal-line and short-yardage carries. He has posted a career stat-line of 239 carries for 988 yards and 17 touchdowns.

McGowan fits the Jaguars power-run style of offense where backs mainly receive the ball and target the interior offensive line. While he won’t get drafted high at all come April, he deserves a chance to prove himself and potentially find a way to get his name called on Day 3, or at worst get signed as an undrafted free agent. The Senior Bowl can provide that opportunity.

WR: Anthony Johnson, Buffalo

While Tyree Jackson gets all the hype out of the University of Buffalo, Anthony Johnson is a draftable prospect from the MAC program and is Jackson’s No. 1 target in the pass game. The 6-2, 207 receiver is impressive at making sideline catches and adjusts to poorly thrown passes well, however isn’t overly athletic and has a limited route tree. He would be a bit of a developental prospect, but his size and ability to make plays are intriguing.

TE: Tommy Sweeney, Boston College

While watching guard Chris Lindstrom from Boston College, Tommy Sweeney caught my eye with his size and ability as a pass-catcher. He stands at 6-5, 255 and comes from a power-running system so he is familiar with in-line blocking, which he excels at.

He’s not going to win contested catches, but finds wasy to get open and bring the ball in with few drops. He’s not the most dynamic or intriguing tight end in this class, but he appears to be a high-floor type of prospect who could serve as a solid No. 2 behind Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

OL: Chris Lindstrom, Boston College

A true old-fashioned, power scheme guard who eats defenders alive in the run game, Lindstrom is the ideal A.J. Cann replacement and one of my favorite Jaguars-fit prospects in this draft. Lindstrom is a fantastic, athletic pull-blocker who understands man-responsibility and has a strong anchor and constantly drives through linemen when down-blocking. He mirrors well in pass protection as well but his pass block punches can be inconsistent. Lindstrom is a dream lead-blocker along the interior for a running back in any power scheme, so he’d become Leonard Fournette’s best friend in Jacksonville.

iDL: Cortez Broughton, Cincinnati

While working on a film room piece for BlackandGoldBanneret.com for the upcoming UCF vs. Cincinnati game, one player that stood out to me on the Bearcats defense was tackle Cortez Broughton. The 6-2, 290 lb senior has recorded 17.5 tackles for loss through ten games this year, which is more than several projected first round picks such as Alabama’s Quinnen Williams (14), BC’s Zach Allen (13.5), FSU’s Brian Burns (13.5), and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell (13).

Broughton is a great run-stuffer who usually takes on and beats double-team down blocks while maintaining ap responsibility. He isn’t an overly agile pass rusher and won’t “wow” you with his moves, but he could provide valuable depth as a rotating, run-defending nose tackle at the next level.

EDGE: Jalen Jelks, Oregon

Jelks is a big-bodied EDGE defender at 6-5, 245 lbs, who is considered a bit of a project among draft analysts, but has desireable traits with quickness off of the line of scrimmage and raw power.

This sounds similar to what we heard about Taven Bryan as a prospect last year, and the Jaguars clearly feel comfortable adding these types of project players to their defensive line. Jelks could immediately provide pressure as a Dante Fowler Jr. replacement at defensive end and develop into a long-term starter if Taven Bryan were to move back to defensive tackle (where I believe he belongs).

LB: T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin

I never thought I’d say this, but the Jaguars are missing the presence of Paul Posluzny on defense. Not from a play standpoint, as he truly had slown down in the final years of his career which led to bad pursuit of runners and blown coverages in the middle of the field, but as communicator and gap shooter vs. the run.

That mold is what Edwards provides. The 6-1, 248 lb linebacker is a natural run-stopper and physical defender who controls the playing field and offers four years of valuable paying experience, where he has recorded 34.5 tackles for loss and nine interceptions. He isn’t considered rangy in pass coverage, but serviceable.

CB: Michael Jackson, Miami

The Jaguars are in need of outside cornerback depth, with the position getting banged up this year and keeping two undrafted free agents on the roster as the current depth. Jackson fits that mold and is also an excellent special teamer. He stands at 6-0, 205 lbs, plays physical in coverage and coming down to make a tackle, and has recorded four career interceptions and nine defended passes. He hasn’t recorded an INT this year, which may be concerning, but the Jaguars don’t need to go cornerback early so Jackson dropping down draft boards could be in their favor if they are interested in his services.

S: Ugochukwu Amadi, Oregon

The 5-9, 197 lb safety is a little short, but he’s incredibly fluid and athletic in space as a guy who can roam and get the ball. A rangy coverage defender, Amadi can be the heir apparent to free safety Tashaun Gipson a la Ronnie Harrison to Barry Church at strong safety for the Jaguars.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Steelers: Friday Injury Report, A.J. Cann Questionable

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers have released their Friday injury report ahead of their matchup at TIAA Bank Field this weekend. The Jaguars will most likely be without Left Tackle Josh Walker as he is listed as doubtful. The Jaguars will be without Rookie Corner Quenton Meeks as he is listed as OUT for Sunday’s game. Ereck Flowers will start in Walker’s place at left tackle with Patrick Omameh very likely being his immediate backup.

Luckily for the Jaguars, although they will not have Meeks, they will have A.J. Bouye back from his calf injury suffered shortly before the Eagles matchup a couple of weeks ago. This should be a boost to the Jaguars secondary.

Nose Tackle Eli Ankou will also likely miss this Sunday’s game, which was worth keeping an eye on due to the fact that Marcell Dareus was battling an injury of his own and is listed as questionable this week. Luckily, Dareus will likely be able to at least suit up for the Jaguars this Sunday.

Guard A.J. Cann is questionable this week as well, and if he cannot play, the Jaguars will likely turn to either Chris Reed to start in his place or to newly signed guard/tackle Patrick Omameh.

Bouye, Gipson, and Telvin Smith are not listed on this weeks status report indicating they are good to go for this Sunday’s game.

Below are the teams’ injury reports:

JAGUARS:

CB Quenton Meeks (Knee): Out

OL Josh Walker (Foot/Ankle): Doubtful

DT Eli Ankou (Calf): Doubtful

OL A.J. Cann (Hamstring): Questionable

DT Marcell Dareus (Triceps/Back): Questionable

STEELERS:

DE Stephon Tuitt (Elbow): Out

OL Marcus Gilbert (Knee): Out

For the Steelers, they will be without tackle Marcus Gilbert for the fourth straight week, and they will also be without tackle Marcus Gilbert. James Conner, who practiced fully all of this week, will be good to go.

Because of the injuries the Jaguars will face a familiar face on the Steelers defensive line in DE Tyson Alualu. The Steelers will start Matt Feiler. This will be the fourth consequtive start for Feiler.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Steelers: Thursday Injury Report, Josh Walker likely Out

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers have released their Thursday injury reports ahead of this Sunday’s game at TIAA Bank Field. For the Jaguars, they are finally back healthy after weeks of having several starters miss practice during the week. Although they are not *fully* healthy, the Jaguars starters that are on the injury report will more than likely play, and will be practicing in some capacity today.

The only key injury worth noting this week has been to Left Tackle Josh Walker. Walker has started for the Jaguars for several weeks after Josh Wells went down with an injury. All indications point to Ereck Flowers starting for the Jaguars this week. He will have his hands full with T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.

Jaguars Cornerback A.J. Bouye, who missed the past two games with a calf injury, looks good to go this week as he has so far been able to tough it out in practice.

The only additions to this weeks injury reports have been  Tashaun Gipson with a wrist injury and Marcell Dareus with a triceps injury. Neither of those injuries appears to be bad enough to miss this Sunday’s game, however, we will keep a close eye on the status report to be released tomorrow.

A late addition to the Jaguars injury report this afternoon was OL A.J. Cann. Cann suffered a hamstring injury and was limited today.

If the Jaguars miss Cann this week they are potentially in big trouble. Omameh would likely start for Cann.

Below are the teams’ injury reports:

JAGUARS:

CB A.J. Bouye (Calf): Full Participation

S Tashaun Gipson (Wrist): Full Participation

LB Lerentee McCray (Hamstring): Full Participation

LB Telvin Smith (Shoulder): Full Participation

OL Ereck Flowers (Knee): Limited Participation

DT Marcell Dareus (Triceps): Limited Participation

OL A.J. Cann (Hamstring): Limited Participation

CB Quenton Meeks (Knee): Did Not Participate

DT Eli Ankou (Calf): Did Not Participate

OL Josh Walker (Foot/Ankle): Did Not Participate

STEELERS:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (Coaches Decision): Full Participation

RB James Conner (Concussion): Full Participation

G Ramon Foster (Coaches Decision): Did Not Participate

OT Marcus Gilbert (Knee): Did Not Participate

DE Stephon Tuitt (Elbow): Did Not Participate

The Steelers will more than likely be without two key starters, and neither of those starters will be James Conner. Conner entered this week in the concussion protocol and the past two practices he has been able to practice fully.

Conner will suit up for his first start against the Jaguars defense that has to be hungry after completely ruining the Jaguars chance at victory last week.

The Steelers will be without Stephon Tuitt and Marcus Gilbert most likely.  No one else on the Steelers small injury report is in danger of missing the game.

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