Jacksonville Jaguars: Alan Ball

Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
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.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

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.

RECEVIERS (6)

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.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

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.

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. 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.

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)

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).

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. 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.

SPECIALISTS (3)

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.

CB Mike Harris

Why he'll make the team: After Alan Ball (86 games) and Will Blackmon (58 games), no Jaguars cornerback has played in more games than Harris (31). That experience makes him a valuable contributor to the secondary, which for the most part is stocked with younger talent. He also is a valuable special teams player, having blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown as a rookie in 2012 and making three tackles on special teams last season. Blackmon has experience both outside and inside, where he has lined up against slot receivers. That's valuable versatility.

Why he should be worried: Harris, who was a sixth-round pick by Gene Smith in 2012, doesn't exactly fit the prototype of what coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks: long and physical. Harris is 5-feet-10, which isn't small, but he is the shortest cornerback on the roster. He doesn't have particularly long arms, either (32 1/4 inches). While not getting bogged down too much in measurable, consider this: There are guys who play bigger than their size, but Harris isn't one of them. Plus, the Jaguars have been impressed with Demetrius McCray (6-0, 185), the team's seventh-round pick in 2013. He has been working with the second unit.

The bottom line: It'll be interesting to see how much playing time Harris gets during training camp, but it appears the Jaguars want to get Blackmon into the nickelback role. McCray appears to be headed up the depth chart, too. Harris' ability to play inside can't be overlooked, but he's going to have to hold off several players to keep his job.
Jaguars cornerback Alan Ball doesn't worry about the little things or things he can't control, and that's what makes him the perfect leader for a young secondary, writes Jaguars.com's John Oehser.

Ball uses the same Zen-like approach to his job that coach Gus Bradley has preached from the moment he arrived in Jacksonville: Focus on competition and improving daily instead of the end result.

"I think it’s something that as you grow and as you mature, you learn," Ball said. "I’ve learned to control what you can control."

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran writes that defensive end Chris Clemons, who made his first appearance at OTAs on Monday, is hoping to regain his old form.

Here are some other notes from Monday, including Bradley stopping practice because he was not pleased with the energy level.

Atlanta owner Arthur Blank says London could be home to several NFL teams, writes The MMQB's Peter King.

Miami owner Stephen Ross says he believes there will be an NFL franchise in L.A. within five years.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars begin offseason conditioning on Wednesday. There is minimal on-field work allowed and only strength and conditioning coaches 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 offensive depth chart appeared Monday:

Defensive line

Starters: LDE Red Bryant, DT Roy Miller, DT Sen'Derrick Marks, LEO Chris Clemons.

Reserves: DE Tyson Alualu, DE Ryan Davis, DT Ziggy Hood, DT Abry Jones, DT Jordan Miller, DT Drake Nevis, LEO Jason Babin, LEO Andre Branch, LEO Gerald Rivers.

The defensive line got a serious upgrade in free agency with the additions of Bryant, Clemons and Hood, who also can play end. It needed it, especially against the run (29th in the NFL last season). Bryant will be a big help there because he plays the end spot that’s main responsibility is setting the edge and stopping the run. The pass rush is better, too, though both Clemons and Babin are in their 30s and the team will likely draft a pass-rusher -- possibly Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack in the first round -- at some point in the draft. The depth at tackle needs to be addressed, too.

Linebacker

Starters: WLB Geno Hayes, MLB Paul Posluszny, SLB Dekoda Watson.

Reserves: OLB John Lotulelei. OLB LaRoy Reynolds, MLB Nate Stupar, OLB J.T. Thomas.

The signing of Watson didn’t get much attention outside of Jacksonville but it could turn out to be one the team’s best acquisitions of the offseason. He’s going to play strongside linebacker on first and second down and then move to leo on third down to give the Jaguars a chance to get four pass-rushers on the field at one time. Posluszny is a tackling machine and Hayes should be better in 2014 after playing through a knee injury in 2013 and undergoing offseason surgery. The backups were big special-teams contributors.

Cornerback

Starters: LCB Dwayne Gratz, RCB Alan Ball.

Reserves: Will Blackmon, Mike Harris, Jamell Fleming, Jeremy Harris, Demetrius McCray.

Re-signing Blackmon was a good move because he can play either spot as a fill-in starter and also play a nickelback. Plus, he and Ball -- one of the team’s top free-agent signings last year -- have become the leaders of a pretty young group of corners. With the exception of those two players, the other corners have been in the league two or fewer years. Gratz is the player they’re counting on to make a big jump in his second season. Just because the Jaguars are happy with their top four corners doesn’t mean they won’t draft one, though.

Safety

Starters: SS Johnathan Cyprien, FS Josh Evans.

Reserves: Winston Guy, Chris Prosinski, Sherrod Martin, Joe Young.

Coach Gus Bradley said after the season he was surprised at Cyprien’s cover skills and he’s expecting big things from him in his second season. Evans was thrust into a starting role before he was ready last season and really struggled. Guy came on late in the season and the competition between the two for the starting job will be an interesting one to watch.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
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Got questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars? I'll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.

 
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With more than $50 million in salary-cap space at the beginning of the month, the Jacksonville Jaguars had plenty of ammunition to go on a spending spree.

Michael Johnson, Michael Bennett and Aqib Talib were available. So were Alex Mack, Eric Decker and Jared Veldheer. The Jaguars had enough money to sign three or four of those players, and they certainly would have made the team significantly better in 2014 -- maybe even a playoff team.

But the Jaguars didn’t pursue any of them. General manager David Caldwell resisted the lure and signed seven second-level free agents to responsible, team-friendly contracts. He and coach Gus Bradley are adamant about not taking a shortcut in the second year of the franchise’s rebuild.

"We all know there’s expectations and we get that," Bradley said. "But I think for me it’s more the city of Jacksonville deserves an opportunity to be a part of something really good. I think [owner] Shad [Khan] deserves that and so does Dave. In order to do that, I think we have to be really strict and disciplined to go on our journey this way."

[+] EnlargeGus Bradley
AP Photo/Michael ConroyDespite a 4-12 record, coach Gus Bradley said the Jaguars made significant strides in 2013.
Sometimes it’s hard not to stray, but being patient and building the franchise through the draft is what sold Khan on Caldwell and Bradley. He learned that was the best approach pretty quickly after purchasing the team in November 2011.

Khan listened to then-general manager Gene Smith and opened up his considerable pockets and splurged in his first free agency. The Jaguars signed receiver Laurent Robinson to a five-year, $32.5 million contract and cornerback Aaron Ross to a three-year deal worth up to $15.3 million. They also signed defensive end Jeremy Mincey to a four-year extension worth $20 million, including $9 million guaranteed.

They signed several other players, too, and Khan sat back and eagerly awaited the playoff appearance that Smith said would come because of those signings.

The Jaguars went 2-14.

"Certainly, I’ve learned my lesson," Khan said. "If you look at the teams that are successful, they’re going to be built through the draft and some missing pieces are going to be filled in through free agency. I think that is the formula for success."

Khan fired Smith and then-head coach Mike Mularkey after the season and hired Caldwell away from the Atlanta Falcons. Caldwell in turn hired Bradley away from the Seattle Seahawks and the two put together their plan to rebuild the franchise.

They signed 10 new free agents in March and April and hit big on four: linebacker Geno Hayes, cornerback Alan Ball, defensive tackle Roy Miller, and defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks. None were in high demand and the most expensive was Miller, who signed a two-year deal worth $4.5 million. The four combined to start 59 of a possible 64 games.

Among the team’s eight draft picks were offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, safety Johnathan Cyprien, cornerback Dwayne Gratz and receiver Ace Sanders. All four started as rookies and showed they are foundation pieces moving forward.

Despite those additions, the Jaguars went 4-12 and started the season by losing their first eight games by double digits. Yet Bradley said the 2013 season was important because it helped establish the culture and the standards by which the team operates.

"We had valuable, valuable lessons that we could teach our team," Bradley said. "We talked about not getting consumed in defeats. We talked about not reveling in accomplishments. All these conversations came up -- celebrating victories, getting better for everybody, being unselfish, learning trust, all these things came up in our conversations last year, and I loved every aspect of that.

"If my sole focus was on winning or losing, I would have missed all that, and we would have missed all those lessons for our team."

It was evident the roster in 2013 was even less talented than anticipated, which produced the temptation to try and speed the process along by splurging in free agency this March. Caldwell and Bradley didn’t waver even though they know expectations are bigger in their second season and they’ll be bigger in 2015 and 2016, as well.

Short-term rewards are not more valuable than long-term success.

"We want to have a consistent winning team moving forward," Khan said. "I think with this rebuilding over and over again is brutal for the fans. I mean, it’s brutal if you have anything to do with it. Just think about it. There are maybe a dozen teams that are always in contention that always manage to be competitive.

"Our goal is we consistently we want to be there."
ORLANDO -- Fourteen Jacksonville Jaguars received performance-based incentives of more than $100,000, led by rookie safety Josh Evans.

Evans, a sixth-round pick out of Florida in 2013, was thrust into a starting role because Dwight Lowery sustained a concussion in a Week 3 loss to Seattle. Evans was expected to spend the season in a reserve role but instead ended up playing 653 of a possible 1,016 snaps (64.3 percent). That additional playing time earned him $181,381.06 to bring his total compensation for 2013 to $437,205.

Performance-based pay compensates players whose playing time was much higher than what their salary would have paid. Players whose base salaries are very low -- which is usually low-round draft picks and undrafted free agents –--stand to earn the most money under the program.

In addition to Evans, the following players earned more than $100,000: offensive tackle Austin Pasztor ($175,996.58), offensive tackle Cameron Bradfield ($155,588.53), receiver Mike Brown ($142,384.82), cornerback Will Blackmon ($134,617,61), cornerback Alan Ball ($129,120.82), receiver Ace Sanders ($127,592.32), safety Winston Guy ($112,796.88), cornerback Mike Harris ($110,352.63), fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou ($108,097.31), safety Johnathan Cyprien ($108,018.59), receiver Cecil Shorts ($104,795.99), cornerback Demetrius McCray ($104,681.44) and tight end Clay Harbor ($102,227.69).

On the other end of the spectrum was running back Delone Carter, who received $182.17.

Jaguars players received a total of $3.46 million in performance-based pay, which is the league limit for each team. However, the players will not be paid until April 1, 2016.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars re-signing cornerback Will Blackmon to a two-year deal may fly under the radar nationally, but it’s a key move that the team needed to make.

The 29-year-old Blackmon had the best season of his career in 2013, playing in 15 games (eight starts) and making 40 tackles with one interception, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery after signing a one-year contract with the Jaguars days before the final preseason game.

Blackmon
Blackmon
But it’s more than what he did on the field that makes him valuable. Coach Gus Bradley consistently praised Blackmon for his leadership in the meeting room and presence in the locker room. That’s important because seven of the 10 defensive backs on the roster have two or fewer years of experience.

Cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray were rookies in 2013. So were safeties Josh Evans and Johnathan Cyprien. Cornerbacks Mike Harris and Jamell Fleming and safety Winston Guy are entering their third seasons. Safety Chris Prosinski is entering his fourth.

Blackmon is entering his eighth season and cornerback Alan Ball, who signed last March, is entering his seventh.

Blackmon helped Gratz handle missing five games after suffering a high ankle sprain in the season opener. Evans was forced to play much more than anticipated after a concussion to Dwight Lowery and Blackmon helped him learn on the fly.

Blackmon may end up not being on the field as much in 2014, especially if the Jaguars sign cornerback Walter Thurmond, but it’s still a valuable signing.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Red Bryant is never going to forget what it felt like to win the Super Bowl earlier this year.

He also isn't going to forget the 2008 and 2009 seasons, either.

What he experienced then -- going 4-12 in '08 and 5-11 in '09 -- was just as much a part of Seattle's championship run as anything they did last season, he said.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsRed Bryant, who signed a four-year deal with the Jaguars, believes his new team has a similar level of commitment that his former team had.
"A lot of people talk about the great season we had this past season, being able to win the Super Bowl, but a lot of people forget the journey that led up to the Super Bowl," Bryant said Monday, two days after he signed a four-year contract worth $17 million with the Jaguars. "It was a lot of shortcomings, hard falls, and we persevered and I was there during that whole process."

One of the main reasons Bryant signed with Jacksonville is he believes the Jaguars are on a similar path under general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley, who was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator from 2009-12. He sees the Jaguars at the same point the Seahawks were in his first two seasons and believes he can help as the franchise attempts to maneuver its way through the same building process.

"They've got a vision from the owner to the general manager to the head coach to everybody in the program," Bryant said. "They know what their vision it. They're going to be committed to it and they're not going to [deviate from it]. When you have that type of commitment to winning, commitment to excellence, only good things can happen.

"...I know what it takes. I know what type of commitment you have to have from the front office on down and that's the same commitment that I see the Jacksonville Jags have."

That's a pretty big leap of faith considering Caldwell and Bradley are only in their second year in Jacksonville and inherited a roster that was one of the worst in the NFL. The Jaguars lost their first eight games of 2013 by double digits and finished the season ranked 22nd or worse in the six major statistical categories (yards per game, rushing yards per game, and passing yards per game). They were 29th against the rush and 31st in total offense and rushing.

But there is optimism because early returns are solid on the duo's first draft class and they were able to add several free agents who turned into key players, such as defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, cornerback Alan Ball, and linebacker Geno Hayes. Marks signed a four-year extension in December and is one of the players around which the defense will be built.

Bryant is another one of those players. He's a five-technique defensive end, meaning he lines up over the offensive tackle and is responsible for the gaps on either side. The 6-foot-4, 323-pound Bryant began his career as a tackle before moving to end in 2010 and he said he's willing to play inside and outside with the Jaguars.

"I'm pretty sure Gus will have a plan and the defensive coordinator will have a plan on how to use me," Bryant said. "I definitely feel like I can play inside if given the opportunity and I hope moving forward that's in the plan to utilize me inside as well."

Bryant, whom Seattle cut on Feb. 28, had planned on visiting Green Bay and Kansas City and said the Washington Redskins also expressed interest, but when he got to Jacksonville and spent time with Bradley, Caldwell and defensive line coach Todd Wash he felt the Jaguars were the perfect situation.

"I just think it's a great fit for me all the way around," he said. "I know where the vision starts from the top down and I believe Jacksonville is definitely moving in the right direction and I'm excited about being able to help their franchise turn it around."
Here is the ninth of a 10-part series breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars' free-agency needs, position by position:

Cornerback

Blackmon
Who’s on the roster: Alan Ball, Will Blackmon, Jamell Fleming, Dwayne Gratz, Mike Harris and Demetrius McCray.

Analysis: The Jaguars are pretty solid at this spot, especially if the team re-signs Blackmon, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next week. Ball was signed as a free agent last year, and were it not for the play of defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks would have been tabbed as GM David Caldwell’s best signing. Ball started 15 games, led the team with 14 pass breakups, and intercepted two passes. Gratz, the team’s third-round pick, missed six games with ankle injuries, but started eight games and showed development despite the injuries. Blackmon was signed just before the final preseason game and worked as a punt returner and started eight games. Harris worked as a fifth defensive back and provided solid depth. The group’s biggest issue was it didn’t make many big plays and had several instances, notably against Cleveland’s Josh Gordon, where it gave up game-changing plays.

NFL free agents of interest: Sam Shields, Walter Thurmond and Javier Arenas.

Need meter: 3. The Jaguars don’t have to address cornerback in free agency or in the draft because they have more pressing needs elsewhere on defense, notably pass-rusher and outside linebacker. If Gratz remains healthy and Blackmon is re-signed, the duo can combine with Ball to give the Jaguars three solid options. If one of the better corners remains unsigned later in free agency the Jaguars might get involved, especially if the price is reasonable.
Got questions about the Jaguars? I'll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

February, 22, 2014
Feb 22
8:00
AM ET
Got questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars? I’ll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.
.
The Jaguars go quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick in NFL.com media analyst Charles Davis' latest mock draft.

Davis has Houston taking defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick and St. Louis taking offensive tackle Jake Matthews at No. 2. That leaves the Jaguars their choice of the top quarterbacks in the draft and GM David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley go with Johnny Manziel over Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles.

In his comment after the prediction, Davis writes that "... Bradley and OC Jedd Fisch are the right personalities for Johnny Football."

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco put out his first mock draft on Tuesday and he has the Jaguars taking Clowney at No. 3. He has Bortles going No. 1 and Matthews going No. 2.

Cornerback Alan Ball was in Tallahassee, Fla., on Tuesday to help drum up support for a bill that will get kids more active. The Florida Times-Union's Matt Dixon writes that the bill would allow for joint-use contracts between local school boards and local governments to allow kids to use a public school's athletic fields and equipment.

Here is Yahoo! Sports' team report on the Jaguars, which leads off with the team's uncertainty at the quarterback position.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars general manager David Caldwell can be very aggressive in free agency if he chooses because the Jaguars are projected to have the third-most cap room available when the free-agency period begins next month.

According to a Feb. 7 report from Roster Management System, the Jaguars will have nearly $30 million in cap space. The team's cap number -- which includes salaries, penalties, dead money, and futures contracts -- for 2014 is $96,517,190, well below the estimated 2014 salary cap of $126 million.

That leaves the Jaguars with $29,482,810 to spend on free agents and draft picks.

Only two teams in the NFL have more projected cap room: Indianapolis ($33,096,844) and Oakland ($58,242,920).

But just because the Jaguars have a significant amount of money to spend doesn't mean Caldwell will be writing a lot of big checks. The Jaguars will target some offensive and defensive linemen in free agency, especially a center, and will be somewhat aggressive early and then back off in the hopes of finding a bargain later in free agency.

That doesn't mean the Jaguars are going to jump into the competition for Alex Mack, who is one of the league's top centers. Ryan Kalil signed a six-year, $49.12 million deal in 2011 with Carolina that made him the NFL's highest-paid center and Mack's deal is expected to top that.

He may not even be available, either, because Cleveland could sign him to an extension before his contract expires last month. Mack also said he would give the Browns the chance to match any offer he received.

"Some of these guys [available linemen] are going to get signed before free agency becomes available," Caldwell said. "We'll just have to wait and see who becomes available and who's out there. You have the franchise tag and some other methods that teams use to keep their guys so we'll see.

"There will be another influx of guys that become available when teams have to get under the salary cap."

Waiting paid off for the Jaguars last year. They signed four unrestricted free agents from other teams (linebacker Geno Hayes, cornerback Alan Ball, running back Justin Forsett and defensive tackle Roy Miller) from March 13-15 and then added defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks on April 2.

Marks had a career year and ended up signing a four-year contract extension in December.
Each day for the next two weeks we’ll review how each position group performed in 2013, and take an early look at 2014. Today we’ll examine the cornerbacks. We did defensive ends on Monday, defensive tackles on Tuesday, and linebackers on Wednesday.

Cornerbacks

Breakdown of starts: Alan Ball (15), Will Blackmon (8), Dwayne Gratz (8), Mike Harris (2), Demetrius McCray (1).

Recap: General manager David Caldwell did very good work in assembling the secondary, especially at cornerback. He signed Ball to a two-year deal and the six-year veteran responded by being the Jaguars’ most consistent corner. Caldwell added Blackmon just days before the final preseason game and he became the unit’s leader and played very well as a spot starter and stand-in punt returner.

Caldwell drafted Gratz in the third round and, while the rookie battled through two ankle injuries that cost him six games, he showed flashes of potential.

The group combined for five interceptions (two each by Gratz and Ball and one by Blackmon) and 29 pass breakups, including a team-high 13 from Ball.

Looking ahead to 2014

Players under contract: Ball, Gratz, Harris, McCray, Jamell Fleming, Jeremy Harris.

The skinny: Expect very little change in this position group. Ball and Gratz should be the starters in 2014 with Harris working in a nickel back role. The only question will be whether the Jaguars re-sign Blackmon. There is interest on both sides and it’s a move that would be a huge benefit for the Jaguars. Blackmon’s leadership in a relatively young secondary meeting room has been one of the things that coach Gus Bradley raved about last season.

The intriguing player is McCray, the Jaguars’ seventh-round pick in 2013. The 6-0, 185-pounder played mainly on special teams but held his own during the few snaps he got on defense. His development may allow him to challenge Mike Harris for playing time.

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