The Jacksonville Jaguars are off until they have to report for training camp July 24. For some, the break will be relaxing. For others, there's probably a little bit of anxiety. Maybe they didn't perform well in OTAs or minicamp, or because of the development of other players they know they're going to be on the bubble in August. They may not necessarily be front-line players, but they've played key roles in the past. Each day this week I'll take a quick look at one of those players who's going to have a lot to prove in camp.
LB J.T. Thomas
Why he'll make the team: The Jaguars claimed him off waivers Sept. 1 and he became a solid contributor. Injuries forced Thomas into a starting role at weakside linebacker in the final two games of the 2013 season and he responded with 13 tackles and a forced fumble. He's a fourth-year player who can play multiple spots, too. Thomas also is one of the Jaguars' better special teams players. He was tied for third with six special teams tackles and also blocked a punt last season, the latter of which led to the Jags' only points in the season opener.
Why he should be worried: The Jaguars signed Dekoda Watson in March and installed him as the starter at the new otto position, which replaces the strongside linebacker. Second-year player LaRoy Reynolds got the first-team reps at that spot, though, because Watson missed most of OTAs and minicamp with a groin injury. Second-year player John Lotulelei got a lot of reps with the second-team defense. The Jaguars also drafted Telvin Smith, a speedy player the coaches envision getting on the field as a nickel linebacker. Geno Hayes also should return from a knee injury to claim the starting job at weakside linebacker. That doesn't leave much room for Thomas to get a lot of playing time.
The bottom line: Thomas is going to have to be impressive in the limited reps he will get during training camp. His special teams play makes him a valuable contributor and likely will be what keeps him on the team.