AFC South: Ricky Stanzi

Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

General manager David Caldwell has said he likes to keep three quarterbacks, which means all three will have to be on the active roster, because Stanzi is ineligible for the practice squad. Stanzi should start the season as the No. 2 because he’s more ready to play than Bortles, but that will likely flip-flop at some point. Stephen Morris is a practice squad candidate.


If the Jags elect to keep only four backs, Todman and Johnson likely would battle for the final spot. That is assuming Robinson continues to be very good in camp. He might end up getting more playing time than any of the other backs after Gerhart if he shows he can be a reliable pass-catcher. Johnson has to prove he can pass block and doesn’t have problems with ball security.


The first four players should be locks, but it will be an interesting competition for the final two spots among Brown, Taylor, free-agent signee Tandon Doss, undrafted rookie Allen Hurns, and former practice-squad player Chad Bumphis. Doss missed most of the organized team activities and minicamp because of a calf injury, allowing Taylor, Bumphis and Hurns to get valuable reps. Doss was not a consistent receiver in his three seasons in Baltimore and has more value as a returner, but Sanders’ strength is as a punt returner and the Jags have other options at kickoff returner. I have Taylor narrowly beating out Hurns because of his experience, but I can easily see that being flipped if the Jags want to add more size. Hurns is 6-foot-3; Taylor is 6-0.


Jensen flashed 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.


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. Even Pasztor, who started 12 games last season, is uncertain because we don’t know how his surgically repaired shoulder will hold up during camp. If it’s fine, then he will win the starting job at right tackle. McClendon and Linder are battling for the right guard spot, and Brewster is going to have to hold off Bowanko and two others to be the starter at center. Bradfield has value because he can play both tackle spots.


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.


Either John Lotulelei or J.T. Thomas, two key special teams players last season, 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. Reynolds did a solid job subbing for Watson (groin) during OTAs and minicamp at the new OTTO position (replaces strongside linebacker).


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.

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. Martin started 36 games for Carolina in his first five seasons, and that experience gives him the edge. 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.


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

QB Ricky Stanzi

Why he'll make the team: Chad Henne is the only Jaguars quarterback who has taken a snap in a regular-season game, but though Stanzi has only played in preseason games he is entering his fourth season and that makes him the second-most experienced one on the roster. More importantly, he is in his second season in Jedd Fisch's offense. Because of that, Stanzi looked pretty good during OTAs and minicamp. He's throwing the ball better than rookie first-round pick Blake Bortles and undrafted free agent Stephen Morris. The Jaguars have said they don't want Bortles to be on the field in 2014. If Henne were to go down with an injury, especially early in the season, Stanzi would give the Jaguars the best chance to win.

Why he should be worried: Stanzi could get cut if Fisch and Bradley feel Bortles progressed enough to be No. 2 on the depth chart. Stanzi is not eligible to be on the practice squad so he would be out if the Jaguars want to keep only two quarterbacks on the active roster -- though GM David Caldwell has said before he likes to keep three. Circumstances change, though, and the Jags could opt to keep an additional linebacker or receiver instead of three quarterbacks. Stanzi likely isn't going to get much better and Morris theoretically has more potential to improve so he would be a better option to stash on the practice squad.

The bottom line: Stanzi's spot on the roster depends on how much Bortles progresses, and that's a tough thing to call right now. Based on how both players looked in OTAs and minicamp, it would seem Stanzi has an advantage.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars begin offseason conditioning on Wednesday. There is minimal on-field work allowed and only strength and conditioning coaches are allowed on the field, so there's not much football coaching going on.

But this is the first look at the 2014 Jaguars. They'll look a lot different after next month’s draft, but here’s an early look at the offensive depth chart. The defensive depth chart will appear Tuesday:


Starter: Chad Henne.
Reserves: Ricky Stanzi, Matt Scott.

The Jaguars are going to draft at least one quarterback, but the job belongs to Henne. GM David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley have said they don’t want a rookie quarterback to play right away. They want him to take the time to learn the game while not having to worry about winning games each week. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Stanzi the second active quarterback for the first part of the season.

Running back

Starter: Toby Gerhart.
Reserves: Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, Delone Carter.

Gerhart was signed to replace Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars believe he can be an every-down back. He’s never done it at the NFL level, though he was a beast at Stanford, so there’s an element of uncertainty. The plan is 15-20 touches per game. The player everyone is watching is Robinson, who struggled holding onto the ball last season. This will certainly be a make-or-break offseason for him. Expect the Jaguars to draft a back as well.


Starter: Will Ta’ufo’ou.
Reserves: Shaun Chapas, Bradie Ewing.

The Jaguars claimed Ewing in late March. He was a fifth-round pick of Atlanta in 2012 but missed all of his rookie season with a torn ACL. He played in two games last season before being placed on IR with a shoulder injury. The fullback wasn’t really involved in the offense in 2013. That may change if the talent level improves.

Tight end

Starter: Marcedes Lewis.
Reserves: Danny Noble, Clay Harbor, Brandon Barden.

Lewis really came on in the last third of the 2013 season and should be a 50-catch guy in 2014. Harbor is a flex tight end and is better used off the line of scrimmage. Noble had the big catch-and-run against Arizona but otherwise was a blocker. This position needs another weapon, but it’s probably not going to be that high of a priority in the draft.

Wide receiver

Starters: Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders.
Reserves: Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Chad Bumphis, Stephen Burton, Tandon Doss, Jeremy Ebert, Lamaar Thomas, Stephen Williams.

This is a position the Jaguars are sure to address in the draft as well. Outside of Shorts, Sanders and Brown, the Jaguars have little experience and not much production. Justin Blackmon is still suspended and the Jaguars aren't counting on anything from him. Doss had more success as a kick returner than receiver in Baltimore and that's likely to continue in Jacksonville. The Jaguars need a big, physical receiver as well as someone who can demand double teams and free up other receivers to make plays. They could find all of that in Sammy Watkins at No. 3.

Offensive line

Starters: LT Luke Joeckel, LG Zane Beadles, C Mike Brewster, RG Will Rackley, RT Austin Pasztor.
Reserves: OT/G Cameron Bradfield, OT Sam Young, C Matt Stankiewitch, G Jacques McClendon, G Stephane Milhim, G Drew Nowak, OT DeMarcus Love.

The question marks are Brewster and Rackley because they’re going to have to hold off challenges from guys already on the roster, as well as any rookies. The Jaguars nearly landed Alex Mack in free agency but when the Cleveland Browns matched the Jaguars’ offer sheet, Brewster inherited the starting job. Caldwell and Bradley publicly said they have confidence in Brewster, a third-year player from Ohio State who suffered a fractured ankle in Week 15, but that was before they signed Mack to an offer sheet. Rackley struggled last season, but he deserves credit for playing much of the season with a knee injury. Expect the Jaguars to draft a center and a guard and bring in several undrafted free agents to compete at those spots. Bradfield started 25 games at right and left tackle but also can play guard, which makes him a valuable reserve.

Free-agency series: Quarterbacks

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
Here is the first of a 10-part series breaking down the Jaguars’ free-agency needs, position by position:


Who’s on the roster: Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Matt Scott and Ricky Stanzi.

Analysis: Henne’s contract expires in March and the team wants to sign him to an extension and GM David Caldwell said last week that it could get done before free agency beings on March 11. If both sides can work out a deal, Henne would go into the offseason as the team’s starter. He’s coming off a season in which he started 13 games and threw for 3,421 yards and 13 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. He’s the first Jaguars quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season since David Garrard in 2009. Henne, who had nine TD passes and five interceptions in the final five games, didn’t tear it up but he did bring stability to the offense that had none when Gabbert was on the field. Gabbert’s 2014 contract is guaranteed so there’s no reason to cut him, and from conversations I’ve had with Jaguars personnel I get the impression that the team hasn’t completely given up on the former first-round pick. Stanzi joined the Jaguars in late September and spent most of the season as the team’s No. 3 quarterback. Scott spent the season on the practice squad but also worked at receiver on the scout team because of injuries at the position. The team is intrigued by his athleticism and he’ll get more of a chance to develop.

NFL free agents of interest: If Henne’s contract expires before the sides can work out a deal, he’ll be the team’s top target.

Need meter: 8. Everything the team does at this position revolves around signing Henne to an extension. The Jaguars want to keep him because they feel he’s the best option heading into 2014. Even if the Jaguars do draft a quarterback, GM David Caldwell said it’s unlikely they’ll be ready to play right away and Henne gives the team the best chance to win as the starter. He’d also be a good mentor to a young quarterback, a job the team does not want to leave to Gabbert. Gabbert did win the starting job in training camp last year before losing it because of his injuries and inconsistent play, so he could again beat out Henne or another quarterback but the Jaguars are better with Henne at the helm. Scott will be given a harder look this offseason.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

October, 17, 2013
Got questions about the Jaguars? I’ll try to answer a representative selection of them every Thursday. Submit your questions each Thursday via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

October, 10, 2013
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert did some light throwing on the side Wednesday for the first time since he severely cut his hand in the season opener, but coach Gus Bradley reiterated that it’s highly unlikely that Gabbert could play in Sunday’s game against Seattle.

Chad Henne and Ricky Stanzi continue to split reps with the first team, and Henne is on schedule to start.

"It’d be a stretch [for Gabbert to play]," Bradley said "We took out some of the stitches. He came out here and threw real light just to see. We’re going to have him do some agility-type drills and maybe just throw on the side, but no competition-type things."

An updated injury report, and it’s a pretty long list:

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle), tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf), receiver Mike Brown (back) and cornerback Alan Ball (groin) did not practice on Wednesday.

Guard Uche Nwaneri (knee), receiver Stephen Burton (hip), receiver Ace Sanders (ribs), linebacker J.T. Thomas (hamstring), defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee) and guard Will Rackley (knee) were limited.

Center Brad Meester and defensive end Jason Babin were given the day off.

Bradley said Lewis did some running on Tuesday, but he had his left calf wrapped when he walked to the practice field at San Jose State University. Lewis hasn’t practiced since he aggravated a previous calf injury during practice on Sept. 5. Bradley said Lewis was going to participate in more aggressive drills on Wednesday.

"He worked out, and he still felt a little bit," Bradley said. "I think with Marcedes it’s just a feel that he had it [a calf injury in the preseason], and then he came back and re-strained it and now it feels good again, so it’s just developing confidence in it."

Lewis missed only three games in his previous seven seasons but has missed two already in 2013.
Gud Bradley, Andy ReidAP PhotoGus Bradley and Andy Reid are looking to get off to fast starts with their new teams.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Fans know a lot about their favorite teams, but they don’t have the same depth of knowledge of the 31 other teams in the NFL. That’s not going to be a problem any longer.

Each week the NFL Nation writers will team up Q&A style to help you get a handle on each team. Today, Kansas City Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Jacksonville Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco help break down Sunday’s matchup.

Michael DiRocco: Is Alex Smith really an upgrade over Matt Cassel?

Adam Teicher: He had better be or the Chiefs are in some trouble. Cassel and Brady Quinn turned over the ball far too many times last season. One thing we know about Smith is that he hasn’t thrown many interceptions. He threw just 10 in his last 25 starts with the 49ers. So he’s been a quarterback who protects the ball, and if he can just do that, he’s already an upgrade over Cassel and Quinn. Another thing: Andy Reid’s West Coast offense will succeed if the quarterback completes a high percentage of throws. Smith completed 70 percent last season. If he can get close to that number this season, he’s even more of an upgrade.

Teicher: How patient will the Jaguars be with Blaine Gabbert on Sunday and this season?

DiRocco: This is a make-or-break season for Gabbert, who must prove he’s capable of being a franchise quarterback. That’s the team’s No. 1 goal for the season, so there will be a certain amount of patience. It does no good to give him a half or one game and yank him because the team will essentially be where it was heading into the season. That being said, if Gabbert really struggles during the first two months of the season, then the team will have its answer and may turn to Chad Henne or the recently signed Ricky Stanzi for the remainder of the season.

DiRocco: What’s the biggest change Andy Reid has brought to Kansas City?

Teicher: It’s a change brought by Reid and John Dorsey, the new general manager. Everybody seems to be pulling in the same direction. The Chiefs went through plenty of infighting the past few years and it was dragging them down. People often had their own agendas or felt they had to align themselves with one person or another. Dorsey and Reid swept that out the door. Winning looks to be the only goal and it certainly appears everybody is on board with that. Of course, it’s easy for a new administration to have everybody on board when it’s undefeated. So it’s an issue to keep an eye on once the Chiefs start losing some games.

Teicher: What are the biggest changes Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell have brought to the Jags?

DiRocco: On the field, it’s on defense, where Bradley is implementing a more aggressive attitude and trying to rebuild the secondary with bigger, more physical cornerbacks -- essentially what he did in Seattle. Off the field, Bradley and Caldwell have changed the culture in the locker room. There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm around the franchise even though everyone knows that the talent level needs a significant upgrade and the team likely isn’t going to reach .500. It was a much-needed boost, because the atmosphere around the team the past few seasons under Jack Del Rio and Mike Mularkey had become somewhat stale.

DiRocco: Some NFL experts have pegged the Chiefs as a playoff team just one season after finishing 2-14. What are a few things that have to happen for that to become a reality?

Teicher: They have many good players, but from the GM to the coach to the coordinators to the offensive and defensive system to the quarterback to 29 other players who didn’t play for the Chiefs last season, there’s a lot new here. How quickly Reid and his staff can pull everything together will be a key. The Chiefs have a favorable schedule the first half of the season and they need to take advantage because it gets more difficult after that. On the field, the Chiefs have to fix a turnover differential that was minus-24 last season. Their defense and special teams have to do a better job of providing better field position for the offense. This offense won’t make a lot of big plays, and if it has to go 80 yards on every possession, it will be a struggle.

Teicher: What are realistic expectations for the Jags this season in terms of number of wins?

DiRocco: I kind of let that slip in my earlier answer, but a six-win season would be the best-case scenario for the Jaguars. Four or five victories seems more likely, though, especially considering the team has back-to-back road games on the West Coast, plays San Francisco in London, and has to play at Denver, Indianapolis and Houston.

Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert continues to progress in his return from a fractured right thumb, but head coach Gus Bradley said a decision on whether Gabbert will start in the season opener against Kansas City could drag into Sunday.

Gabbert was limited in practice on Wednesday, but did take some team reps. Bradley said the next step will be to see how Gabbert’s thumb responds over the next few days before he would make a decision on whether he will play against the Chiefs.

"It very easily could [drag into Sunday]," Bradley said. "We’ve got some decisions to make. I know he feels better every day so I think we’re going to have to get as much time as we can to evaluate this."

Gabbert suffered his injury in the second preseason game on Aug. 17 and returned to practice for the first time on Monday. Bradley said Gabbert was up-and-down on Wednesday.

"At times he looked good and at times he looked like he had an injury," Bradley said on a conference call with Kansas City media.

Gabbert said earlier Wednesday he felt like he was on track with his rehab but wasn’t focusing on whether he’ll be ready in time for Sunday.

"It feels better and better each day," he said. "It’s just kind of a funny deal that we’ve got to stay on it, stay on top of it, manage it, but it’s going to improve day by day."

If Gabbert doesn’t improve enough then the Jaguars will start Chad Henne, who started the final six games of last season and threw for 1,990 yards and 11 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. That would make Ricky Stanzi, whom the Jaguars were awarded off waivers last week from Kansas City, the backup.

"Guys have to step up," Bradley said. "We’ll got out there and watch him and based on how he’s throwing -- we’re not going to put the team in jeopardy just to say he’s starting. Both of them are getting quite a few reps. Stanzi’s getting some reps so we’re preparing for all options."

The Jaguars wouldn’t really lose much if Henne has to start instead of Gabbert. Gabbert started the first 10 games of the 2012 and suffered a forearm injury after throwing just two passes in the 10th game. In the other nine games the Jaguars averaged 263.6 yards per game, 185.3 passing yards per game, and 14.1 points per game.

Henne started the final six, during which the Jaguars averaged 326.3 yards per game, 233.3 passing yards per game, and 15.3 points per game.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- This is a make or break season for Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Either he proves he can be a consistent starter who could develop into a franchise quarterback or the Jaguars will give up on the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder and look for a quarterback in the draft.

The Jaguars took Gabbert with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 draft, believing he would become a quarterback that could lead the franchise to a Super Bowl. He obviously hasn’t developed the way the team had hoped, and entering his third season he has completed just 53.8 percent of his passes for 3,876 yards and 21 touchdowns with 17 interceptions.

His inconsistency -- in his 24 starts he has completed at least half of his passes 16 times (and also a 17th game in which was injured went 2-for-2) but has also had seven games in which he completed less than 50 percent of his passes -- looks even worse when compared to the other 11 quarterbacks who were drafted in 2011.

[+] EnlargeBlaine Gabbert
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesBlaine Gabbert is just 5-19 as the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
More importantly, his record as a starter is 5-19 (.208). That's the worst record among the 12 quarterbacks taken in the 2011 NFL draft. Six, including Gabbert, were taken in the first two rounds and those are the players against which he should be measured, so here’s a breakdown:

Cam Newton (No. 1 overall by Carolina): Newton had a fantastic first season, setting rookie records for passing yards (4,051) and rushing yards by a quarterback (706). Those numbers lasted only a season, though, as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III broke them last season. Newton is 13-19 as a starter after going 6-10 as a rookie and 7-9 last season. Career stats: 590-1,002-29, 7,920 yards, 40 TDs; 1,447 yards, 22 TDs rushing.

Jake Locker (No. 8 overall by Tennessee): Locker played in five games as a rookie but won the starting job entering last season. He missed five games and parts of two others because of two shoulder separations and led the Titans to a 4-7 record in the 11 games which he started. He completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 2,176 yards and 10 touchdowns with 11 interceptions in 2012. Career stats: 211-380-11, 2,718, 14 TDs.

Christian Ponder (No. 12 overall by Minnesota): He started the final 10 games of his rookie season (going 2-8) but helped lead the Vikings to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth last season, though, he missed the playoff game with a deep triceps bruise. This, too, is a make-or-break season for Ponder. Career stats: 458-774-25, 4,788 yards, 31 TDs.

Andy Dalton (second round, No. 35 overall by Cincinnati): Dalton is by far the most successful quarterback of the group, having started every game the past two seasons and leading the Bengals to a 19-13 record and two playoff berths. Each season has ended with playoff losses to Houston, but it was the first time since 1981-82 the franchise has made back-to-back playoff appearances. Career stats: 629-1,044-29, 7,067 yards, 47 TDs.

Colin Kaepernick (second round, No. 36 overall by San Francisco): Kaepernick was a relative unknown until he replaced Alex Smith (concussion) in Week 10. He led the 49ers to a 5-2 record to close the regular season and playoff victories over Green Bay and Atlanta to reach the Super Bowl. He threw for 798 yards and four TDs and rushed for 264 yards and three TDs in the postseason. Career stats: 139-223-3, 1,849 yards, 10 TDs.

Here's a look at the other six:

Ryan Mallett (third round, No. 74 overall by New England): He has played in four games in two seasons in mop-up duty in relief of Tom Brady. He was the subject of trade rumors early in the preseason but remains with the Patriots. Career stats: 1-4-1, 17 yards.

Ricky Stanzi (fifth round, No. 135 overall): Spent two seasons with the Chiefs until being cut last week. He is now with the Jaguars as the No. 3 quarterback behind Gabbert and Chad Henne. He has never appeared in a game.

T.J. Yates (fifth round, No. 152 overall by Houston): He started the last five games of the regular season and two playoff games in 2011 when Matt Schaub was out with a Lisfranc injury. He led the Texans to a 3-4 record in those games, which included a 31-10 victory over Cincinnati in a wild-card game that was the first playoff victory in franchise history. Career stats: 86-144-4, 987 yards, 3 TDs.

Nathan Enderle (fifth round, No. 160 overall): He spent the 2011 season with the Bears but was waived after the season. He went to training camp with the Jaguars and spent time with Tennessee in the offseason. He signed with San Diego on July 31 and was among the Chargers cut last week. He has never appeared in a game.

Tyrod Taylor (sixth round, No. 180 overall): He has played in 10 games in relief of Joe Flacco. Career stats: 18-30-1, 197 yards.

Greg McElroy (seventh round, No. 208 overall): The former Alabama standout started one game for the New York Jets last season, going 14-for-24 for 185 yards with one interception in a 27-17 loss to San Diego. He was released earlier this week. Career numbers: 19-31-1, 214 yards, 1 TD.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars wrap up the preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons tonight (7:30 p.m. ET). Here are three things to watch:

The quarterbacks: With starter Blaine Gabbert out with a hairline fracture of his right thumb, Chad Henne gets the start. But he and the rest of the team’s starters will play only 10-15 snaps. That leaves Mike Kafka and Matt Scott to play the majority of the game.

The two are battling for the No. 3 quarterback spot. Neither has been particularly impressive in the preseason. Kafka has completed 7 of 14 passes for 27 yards and one interception while Scott has completed 12 of 28 passes for 103 yards. They’ve played in every game.

The team claimed former Kansas City QB Ricky Stanzi off waivers on Tuesday, but that move appears to be more about picking his brain about the Chiefs (whom the Jaguars play in the regular-season opener) than anything else.

So it’s Scott versus Kafka for the third quarterback spot. It’s a critical competition, at least for the early part of the season. There’s some doubt that Gabbert will be ready to go in Week 1, in which case Henne would start and the Kafka/Scott winner would be the No. 2.

Jonathan Cyprien: Coach Gus Bradley has said several times this week that he wants Cyprien to get more reps against the Falcons. The second-round draft pick missed the first two weeks of training camp because of a hamstring injury.

The 6-foot, 217-pound safety is a better option in the secondary than Chris Prosinski, who was picked on by Miami in the preseason opener, including a play in which he got turned around on a touchdown pass. Cyprien seemed to be unsure of himself at times in last Saturday’s game against the Eagles and the extra playing time will certainly help.

Cyprien will be one of two rookie starters in the secondary (cornerback Dwayne Gratz is the other). They’re going to make mistakes but the best way to limit those is to get as much time on the field as possible.

The battle at WR: Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders and Mike Brown are set, which leaves five players competing for two spots. The top two candidates are Jordan Shipley and Tobais Palmer, with Jeremy Ebert, Toney Clemons and Charly Martin likely on the outside.

The 5-11, 178-pound Palmer is intriguing because of his speed, but he has fumbled two punts in the preseason and that may be something he can’t overcome. Shipley leads the bubble group of receivers with four catches for 48 yards. He also has value on special teams as a punt and kickoff returner, which may be enough to win him one of the final two spots.

Jags add QB, LB

August, 27, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have added a fifth quarterback to the roster after being awarded Ricky Stanzi off waivers from Kansas City.

The team also was awarded linebacker Kyle Knox from Seattle.

Starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert is out for the rest of the preseason with a hairline fracture of his right thumb. Backup Chad Henne is expected to play only 10-15 snaps in the Jaguars’ preseason finale at Atlanta on Thursday, with Mike Kafka and Matt Scott expected to receive the bulk of the playing time.

Stanzi was cut by the Chiefs on Sunday after getting beat out for the No. 3 spot by undrafted rookie Tyler Bray. Kansas City drafted Stanzi in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. He has never played in a game.

Seattle waived Knox in the final cuts of the 2012 preseason and he spent the final two weeks of last season on the Seahawks’ practice squad.

To make room on the roster for Stanzi and Knox, the Jaguars cut tight end Isaiah Stanback and running back De'Leon Eskridge.

The Jaguars have now made 27 roster moves since training camp began on July 26.
Jake LockerJohn Korduner/Icon SMIIs Washington quarterback Jake Locker worth the No. 8 pick in April's draft?
If the Tennessee Titans really like Jake Locker, like him in a way where they feel like he’s the guy they have to have out of this draft, then they’re going to have to take him at No. 8.

Picking someone else and hoping to move back up from the 39th overall pick for him is too risky. Trading down to a spot later in the first round leaves no guarantee either. The Washington Redskins may go another direction at No. 10, but the Minnesota Vikings might not at No. 12.

If the Titans love Locker and watch him become a Viking, they’re left with regret, and that regret isn’t something they should carry if they are going to look at Ryan Mallett, Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick or Ricky Stanzi early on and pine a bit for Locker.

If they love Locker, they have to stick their neck out for him. If they love Locker, they have to overspend. If they love Locker, they have to give more than a little on staying true to draft-board values.

“Half a round too early is better than a pick too late with quarterbacks in this draft,” a person from a team not in search of a quarterback told me this week.

So do the Titans have Locker roughly 24th on their board, ahead of any other quarterbacks who would be around? I don’t think the board is set yet. The later it is set, the less likely a crucial detail escapes the room.

A second person, a scout, said a move like Locker at No. 8 is a matter of conviction.

“If you look at Jake Locker and say, ‘He is the guy, no question, clear-cut, this guy here is our franchise,’ you have to,’” that scout said. “But that’s going to be a hard one for them to justify if he doesn’t turn out to be the one they think he’s going to be. ... You better like him better than those other two guys that everybody loves right now.”

That scout wouldn’t go quarterback eighth if he was the Titans. He sees too many good defensive players who can step on the field in the fall and make a big impact for the Titans in that spot.

But it would be risky. Risky is uncharacteristic for Mike Reinfeldt, a measured and methodical general manager. I think to Reinfeldt, rounding up the value of a player a half a round is the same thing as reaching. And he doesn’t want to reach.

If Reinfeldt takes Locker at eight, he’s could be staking his career on him. If he takes a second-round quarterback or trades up and takes one late in the first round, it’s not as daring. He’d be more insulated in the event of a failure by that choice.

Personally, I’d rather have a lower pick who faces lesser pressure. You can roll him out and say “We think he’s got a chance in time.” Take a guy eighth and you have to say, “He’s the answer.”

But if you are as quarterback needy as the Titans are right now, you don’t necessarily get the luxury of choosing how you choose your next signal-caller.

At some point, for a certain guy, for the guy you think is the right guy, you have to jump out.

The guy will face a different kind of scrutiny because he didn’t line up with majority opinion. But if he’s Jerod Mayo or Vernon Davis or even Tyson Alualu, you reap dividends and look like individualistic thinkers. If he’s Tyson Jackson, Darrius Heyward-Bey or even Tim Tebow, you stand to get crushed for him and look like a fool for straying from the pack’s thinking.

If the Titans are planning on waiting until their second round choice, 39th overall, I count 13 picks by 10 teams that could be used on quarterbacks before then. They could be left in a situation where everyone else’s orders determine their entrée and they aren’t even handed a menu.

Locker’s accuracy is the biggest question. Can good coaching make him more accurate? Can Mike Munchak’s choice as offensive coordinator, Chris Palmer, make him more accurate?

(Side note: Interesting stuff on how college accuracy correlates to NFL accuracy in a different division.)

“Every really good quarterback can do one thing well: throw the football accurately from the pocket,” draft analyst Mike Detillier said. “Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger -- what breaks them away from the pack is they throw the football so well from the pocket, with accuracy. Jake doesn’t do that right now.

“I think it can be fixed. Remember he was a Wing-T quarterback in high school. That first year at Washington, he was running for his life because they could not protect him. The last two years have been an adjustment. His offensive line was average at best and his receiving corps was not real good, they dropped a host of passes.”

“I do think it’s fixable and it can be managed better. He reminds me a little bit -- playing-wise, not personality-wise -- of Jay Cutler.”

If the Titans could trade No. 8 for Cutler right now, I believe they would. Even with the questions about his personality, they’d be hard-pressed to turn the pick into a quarterback with better skills.

So do the Titans think they can help Locker be Cutler?

Is it time for them to stick their neck out?

Mailbag: On QBs, RBs and Posluszny

March, 26, 2011
William Grooms from Hilton Head Island, S.C., writes: I am a Jaguars season ticket holder. And you’re always fair to them. My question is, and I know we need a lot of help on defense. But if one of the top three QBS are available at 16, do you think we should use the pick on him, and take or chances in the rest of the draft on our other needs?

Paul Kuharsky: Who’s the third guy? It doesn’t seem there is a consensus on that. My feeling at this time is if Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are gone, and I expect they will be, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett or anyone else would be a force at 16.

As I’ve written, I’d be more comfortable tabbing Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton or Ricky Stanzi in the second or third or positioning to get the one you like best with a move up.

Mike from Victoria, Texas, writes: Good running back list, but like all lists, there are always going to be questions. Why is it that you feel that LeSean McCoy is a top five back, but Arian Foster still needs to show more? They are both 2-year players and Arian had a far superior second year. In their rookie years, statistically speaking, Foster actually stacks up comparable to McCoy, despite playing only late in the season. McCoy only had more than 100 yards from scrimmage twice, the same as Foster. Foster has performed like a top-flight back ever since his number got called in Week 14 of 2009… Justify your pick.

Paul Kuharsky: Reasonable request, which I won’t fare well with. I saw Foster a lot and thought he was great, but when I looked at him with those other people, I felt like I wanted to see it for longer. I saw McCoy a couple times last year and was very impressed with his versatility -- he was a lot better than I was expecting.

So I probably overrated McCoy based on his newness to me and downgraded Foster based on his familiarity. Which doesn’t amount to a good answer at all, but it’s the one I’ve got.

These lists are somewhat brutal to put together, and ultimately each ballot is imperfect. Hopefully when eight are melded, we help smooth out one another’s mistakes. And the fact there is no right answer is what’s making for lively debate.

I appreciate the feedback.

Luke Hillis from Murfreesboro, Tenn., writes: Do you think the Titans are desperate enough to offer next year’s number one plus an early-round pick this year for Kevin Kolb? Do you think the Eagles are asking too much and should we be excited if we get him?

Paul Kuharsky: I don’t think they are desperate enough, no. And if the league isn’t up and running by the time the draft arrives, they cannot do a deal for a player that involves at 2011 pick. They won’t be able to deal for a veteran until there is a new CBA, and it would be with a 2012 pick or picks.

I think Kolb will be too expensive for Tennessee.

He’s a guy groomed in a good system, and his team was ready to start him until Michael Vick landed in its lap. No guarantee. But way more ready than anyone they can draft.

Dan from Raleigh, N.C., writes: I don't view it as Jack Del Rio questioning his player's intelligence and endurance so much as him questioning his coaching. He's already discussed that he has worked the team very hard, they lost what, two weeks of OTAs last year? And his defense being too complicated I'd chalk up to him wanting his players to play up to the schemes without really maximizing the talent level on the field. Does that sound reasonable?

Paul Kuharsky: It does. But I think there is an element of pass-the-buck and campaign speech to his comments here and in the stuff he said at the combine about backing off.

Carl Follmer from Iowa City, Iowa
Just a quick note on the kickoff rule change as it pertains to the Colts: I imagine most people will think the new rule benefits the Colts because they may well not have to defend as many kicks (something they're notoriously shaky at). But another aspect that isn't as visible is that the rest of the pack may come back to the Colts' level as far as returns are concerned. I can count on one hand the number of times the Colts got a good kickoff return and began a possession at or past their own 40 last season. Peyton Manning is used to constructing 80-yard drives, so this won't have much impact on him, as opposed to teams like the Bears or Browns that have trouble scoring (to put it mildly) and rely on that extra yardage. The teams with effective offenses won't be impacted, and any offensive stagnation will only be magnified. In a world where most everyone begins at the same point on the field, I'll gladly take Manning.

Paul Kuharsky: A good way to look at it, thanks.

And now for what’s becoming a weekly section, our Friday speed Q&A via Twitter:

@damiansmith0812 I read a lot of message boards, I know bad idea, but would Tenn ever consider moving Finnegan to S? Played it in college.

PK: I'm anti-position change. Waste a lot of work at corner and could wind up weaker there. Maybe even at two spots.

@coltsjunkie Were the players (who voted the Top Ten passrushers) from the LFL? Where's @RobertMathis98?

PK: You might want to check my ballot -- left Julius Peppers off, had Dwight Freeney first when DeMarcus Ware got all the other firsts. Has Mathis on there.

@naturalJay is TCU's Dalton a good fit for the Jags at 16?

PK: I think it’s too high.

@chrisbrown44 what will be biggest difference for titans under munch?

PK: I hope accountability and discipline, which has slipped. No way to know at this stage, though.

@Hodari11 Gene Smith hinted that the MLB is the QB of the D. He wants a guy to step right in. Paul posluszny is a free agent. thoughts?

PK: Looks like a potentially great match.
Ponder/DaltonUS PresswireFlorida State's Christian Ponder and TCU's Andy Dalton are part of a list of "second-tier" quarterbacks for the 2011 NFL draft.
Perhaps Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert falls to No. 8 and the Titans are in love with him. Perhaps Washington’s Jake Locker is attractive to the Jaguars at No. 16.

Or perhaps the two AFC South teams shopping for a quarterback believe the gap between those guys and signal-callers they can find later isn’t so big and they decide to wait.

Coming out of the scouting combine and seeing all the players who look to be more of a sure thing than the top quarterbacks, right now I endorse the waiting plan.

Presumably, that takes Auburn’s Cam Newton, Gabbert, Locker and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett out of the picture for Tennessee and Jacksonville.

Who does that leave?

“I think it’s a good group, by numbers,” Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said. “I think there are a number of guys who will develop into eventual starters. They certainly may not be Day 1, they may not go in the first round. But there are a number of guys that can develop because they do have NFL skills sets, they’re just maybe not as ready-made right now.

“To me, no matter where you take the player, it’s a developmental position. I mean, they’ve got to know what they’ve got to do, what the 10 other guys on offense around them have got to do and then they have to know what a defense is trying to do to them. Sometimes a guy’s got to play by default. Sam Bradford was a great exception. But guys typically don’t play that well coming in.

“Usually, no matter where you’d take a quarterback, you’d like the luxury of working him into it. If it’s his first year, then it’s his first year, but hopefully not early in his first year. Usually it's that second, third year when that player emerges. You’ve got to get him on the job for his on-the-job training.”

So what might the Titans, who’ve currently only got a third-string quarterback in Rusty Smith, do with the 39th and 77th overall picks? And what if a developmental quarterback remains in play for Jacksonville, which has David Garrard and Luke McCown in place, at No. 49 and 80?

I spent time in Indianapolis trying to sort out the second tier of quarterbacks, which several people in the know indicate right now is comprised of another four-pack: Florida State’s Christian Ponder, TCU’s Andy Dalton, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick and Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi.

Let’s look at those four more closely and see if we can’t begin to work toward some matchmaking.


Steve Muench of Scouts Inc: “The best fit for Jacksonville is Ponder in my opinion. Kaepernick is interesting here and he'd be a good pick with Garrard still on the roster, but the reality is there could be a coaching change at the end of the year and that will set him back. Ponder is more NFL-ready and he has the mobility to be effective in that scheme."

Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout: “He doesn’t have great arm strength, but he’s very accurate short and intermediate so he’s an ideal fit in a West Coast offense.”

Ponder: “I really think I’m the whole package at quarterback. I have great accuracy and can make all the throws. Intelligence is a huge advantage for me, being able to comprehend offenses and defenses. We ran a complex offense at Florida State and I think it will carry over well to the NFL. I’m athletic enough to move in the pocket and make plays with my feet.”


Muench: “The best fit for Tennessee depends on whether or not they can re-sign Kerry Collins [or, I’d interject, sign or trade for a veteran the Titans like better than Collins] and feel comfortable going with him for another year. If they can and are, Kaepernick is arguably the best pick. He is a hard worker with a great blend of size, mobility and arm strength, but he is raw. He needs to work on his footwork, release and progressions.”

Rang: “Kaepernick is the most physically gifted of the second-tier quarterbacks but he also has the longest way to go. He has great size, he has an absolute rocket for an arm, all of those types of things. But he has to make that transition from the pistol offense in college. He was a high school baseball player, and he still throws it like a pitcher. There is some real technical work you’ve got to do with him.”

Kaepernick: “I don’t think our [Nevada] offense will directly translate, but I think we do a bunch of things as progressions, protections that are similar to [what] NFL teams do and we just call them something different. I think picking up on terminology will be a big thing for me, learning what those mean as opposed to what we call things.”


Muench: “If Collins [or a veteran] isn't an option, then the Titans need someone who is ready to step in earlier. Dalton makes the most sense in that scenario. He's a sound decision-maker and we're confident in his ability to transition to a pro style offense. I also think he's got enough arm strength and touch to find [Kenny] Britt downfield.”

Rang: “Dalton, like Ponder, is more of a West Coast offense guy, a guy who’s going to beat you with his mind, with that short to medium range accuracy, with good mobility, things like that.”

Dalton: “It just depends on the situation and the team you go to and their QB situation. Some guys, it doesn't take long to step in and be the guy. Others, they have time to sit back and watch a little bit. You see what Aaron Rodgers did this year, he sat out for a while and sat behind Brett Favre and he's done an outstanding job once his time came. There are obviously different situations depending on the team and the QB situations.”


Rang: "I’m not quite as high on him as the other three, but I know some clubs that think he is a legitimate second- or third-round pick. He has a little bit of a stronger arm than Ponder. His best assets are size and an over-the-top release that can hit down the seams. If you support him with a strong running game, an I-formation kind of offense, then he can attack over the top that way."

Stanzi on Iowa’s offense under Kirk Ferentz: “The way he has his offense set up is very similar to how some other (NFL) teams do it. We’re under center a lot. It’s a lot of two-back sets, a tight end, a lot of traditional pro-style stuff that we do at Iowa. All that definitely gets you more familiar than a spread quarterback would be or someone who hasn’t had that. It doesn’t mean you’re better at it. It just means you’ve had more experience at it.”

Final words

ESPN’s Todd McShay:“I think Kaepernick would be a good fit for both those teams, a bigger quarterback who can deliver the ball down the field. I don’t know that Christian Ponder or Ricky Stanzi would be great fits for either of those teams because I don’t know if they have the arm strength to make the throws necessary in those systems. Dalton is a little bit better than Stanzi in terms of arm strength.”

Rang: ”I think Kaepernick and Stanzi make a little bit more sense for Tennessee. Ponder and Dalton make a little bit more sense for the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

Me: Muench, McShay and Rang watch prospects for a living, I try to catch up during draft season. So my opinions will grow stronger in time. If there isn't a home run to be hit in the first round when the Titans and Jaguars are on the clock -- and the possibilities look more like stand-up doubles at this point -- then I'd wait and look to this foursome. I'll be interested to talk to scouts and hear pro day reviews of them in the coming weeks.