Jacksonville Jaguars: Jamell Fleming

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, 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.
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.

2013 position review: Cornerbacks

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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.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A look at snaps played by Jacksonville Jaguars defenders in Thursday’s 27-20 victory over Houston, while analyzing what it means:

S Johnathan Cyprien: 83 of 83

S Winston Guy: 83 of 83

LB Paul Posluszny: 83 of 83

CB Alan Ball: 80 of 83

CB Dwayne Gratz: 75 of 83

DT Sen'Derrick Marks: 73 of 83

LB Geno Hayes: 72 of 83

DE Jason Babin: 65 of 83

DE Andre Branch: 54 of 83

DE Jeremy Mincey: 36 of 83

DE Tyson Alualu: 35 of 83

DT Roy Miller: 35 of 83

LB Russell Allen: 32 of 83

CB Will Blackmon: 29 of 83

CB Mike Harris: 25 of 83

DE Ryan Davis: 20 of 83

DT Abry Jones: 13 of 83

LB J.T. Thomas: 11 of 83

LB John Lotulelei: 8 of 83

CB Jamell Fleming: 1 of 83

Analysis: Marks played a season-high 73 snaps, which was more than twice the number of snaps Miller played. … Defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick was inactive for the first time this season. Coach Gus Bradley opted to have Jones active instead. ... Mincey was active for the first time since the Nov. 17 Arizona game. He made little impact, assisting on just one tackle. ... Davis recorded the first sack of his career. It came on the game’s final play. ... Branch has recorded a sack in three of the past four games. ... Guy made his first career start.

RTC: Answers are in the locker room

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Jaguars are obviously frustrated after losing their first two games by a combined score of 47-11 and essentially being out of each game by the time the fourth quarter began.

But the solution to their frustrations won't be found by signing free-agent quarterback Tim Tebow, who was the subject of a less-than-impressive rally outside EverBank Field Monday afternoon. Rather, the answers are in the locker room, writes Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Those answers begin with: stop hurting themselves with penalties, improving coverage on special teams and finding some way to get some consistency in the offense.

“It’s not OK where we’re at right now,” coach Gus Bradley said. “We have to get better and we have a high standard. … The big thing for us is accountability. What are willing to accept and what is our team willing to accept? We’re just trying to figure out, ‘Why is this happening and why is this taking place?’ It comes back to making sure we don’t hurt ourselves.”

Here is some other pieces of Jaguars content from around the web:

Here's my take on Tebow and the Jaguars.

In a move that was anticipated last week, Bradley announced Monday that quarterback Blaine Gabbert will not play against Seattle on Sunday. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew suffered a sprained tendon in his ankle against Oakland but Bradley is optimistic that he'll play against the Seahawks.

A roundup of other items from this blog: the Jaguars claimed cornerback Jamell Fleming off waivers from Arizona and made four other roster moves; running back Jordan Todman is ready for any role; the weekly Upon Further Review examines four hot issues from the loss against the Raiders.

The Jaguars opened as 19.5-point underdogs against Seattle. That's a pretty high number, but Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com writes that it's not among the top-five largest lines in the NFL since 1972.

Cole Pepper has an interesting take on the Jaguars' biggest issue: other than Jones-Drew and Josh Scobee -- and possibly Paul Posluszny -- the fans don't feel any connection with the players. One way to solve that is have a player do something big in a game that's important, like in the matchup against San Francisco in London.

O'Halloran breaks down five plays that mattered against the Raiders.

The T-U's Hays Carlyon sat down for a Q&A with safety Dwight Lowery. They touched on the team's attitude after the Raiders loss, the play of safety Johnathan Cyprien and the challenge the defense will face against Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.

 
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Jaguars have claimed cornerback Jamell Fleming off waivers from Arizona and made four other roster moves on Monday.

Fleming was the Cardinals' third-round pick in 2012 but fell out of favor with new coach Bruce Arians' staff, according to a report on azcentral.com. The 5-foot-11, 206-pound Fleming played in 15 games (three starts) last season.

The Jaguars also promoted offensive lineman Jacques McClendon from the practice squad to the 53-man roster and signed defensive end Chris McCoy to the practice squad. The team had released McClendon and McCoy last week and promoted receiver Jeremy Ebert and cornerback Marcus Burley from the practice squad. Ebert, who caught one pass in his NFL debut in the Jaguars' 19-9 loss to Oakland, and Burley were waived on Monday.

The Jaguars have only one spot remaining on the practice squad and it's likely Ebert will be re-signed.

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