JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars players report on Tuesday for the offseason conditioning program and it’ll be the first time the majority of the players will meet with the free agents the team signed in March.
Though the workouts are voluntary, the Jaguars are expecting 100 percent participation.
ESPN’s Field Yates provides a detailed breakdown of what can and can’t be done during these workouts so I won’t waste any time here recapping that, but there are several questions to consider as the Jaguars begin preparations for the 2014 season.
What’s the top priority this week?
Aside from making sure the players are in shape, it’s the assimilation of the new players and starting to build team chemistry. One of the most surprising things about the 2013 season was the lack of strife and animosity inside the locker room. Despite losing their first eight games by double digits, the players never doubted coach Gus Bradley or tuned out his message. The locker room remained upbeat and positive. Bradley did a good job of establishing the culture and now it's up to the players to maintain that and ensure that new additions fit in.
How are the injured players?
Everyone is progressing well and should be cleared for full participation by the June minicamp. Offensive tackle Luke Joeckel has had about seven months to recover from his fractured ankle so he’s naturally further along than center Mike Brewster, who fractured his ankle in Week 15. Receiver Cecil Shorts (sports hernia), linebacker Geno Hayes (knee), and defensive tackle Roy Miller (shoulder) are also recovering from offseason surgeries.
Which second-year player could make the biggest jump?
Receiver Ace Sanders, cornerback Dwayne Gratz, and safety Johnathan Cyprien should all be better than they were as rookies, but the player that could make the biggest jump is Joeckel. That’s partly because of his injury situation, which ended his season in Week 5. But it’s also because he’s back at left tackle, his natural position. Joeckel spent all of training camp and the first four weeks at right tackle because Eugene Monroe was the Jaguars’ starting left tackle. When Monroe was traded in Week 5, Joeckel slid over to left tackle. It was evident in the little he played there before his injury that Joeckel was much more comfortable on the left side. He neutralized St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn in the short time he was on the field before getting hurt when someone fell across his leg. Joeckel should make significant strides from where he was before he got hurt.