Jacksonville Jaguars: Nate Stupar

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.
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.
Here is the eighth of a 10-part series breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars' free-agency needs, position by position:

Linebacker

Who’s on the roster: Russell Allen, Geno Hayes, John Lotulelei, Paul Posluszny, LaRoy Reynolds, Nate Stupar and J.T. Thomas.

Analysis: Posluszny had another great season in 2013 and capped it with a Pro Bowl appearance. He has led the team in tackles every season in Jacksonville and is the team’s best defensive player. His strength is playing the run and he’s not as effective in coverage. Hayes was a solid free-agent signing last season and played through a chronic knee problem that required offseason surgery. He should be completely healthy by the time organized team activities begin in April. The problem is the outside linebackers didn’t make many big plays and the lack of speed also contributed to the team’s trouble with tight ends. Thomas, Stupar, Allen and Lotulelei have been mainly special teams players though Thomas and Lotulelei did get more playing time toward the end of the season.

NFL free agents of interest: Brian Orakpo, Jason Worilds and Mike Neal.

Need meter: 7. The Jaguars have to get faster on defense and it starts with the linebackers. Posluszny is a machine in the middle but they need to upgrade the outside. Orakpo may cost more than they’re willing to spend but Worilds and Neal should have much more reasonable price tags. Expect the Jaguars to drat at leafst one linebacker as well.

2013 position review: Linebackers

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
11:00
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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 linebackers. We did defensive ends on Monday and defensive tackles on Tuesday.

Linebackers

Breakdown of starts: Paul Posluszny (15), Russell Allen (14), Geno Hayes (14), John Lotulelei (1), J.T. Thomas (1).

Recap: There was no more consistent player on the roster than Posluszny, who led the Jaguars in tackles for the third consecutive season. His 161 tackles was second in the NFL and he also added three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a career-high 10 pass breakups.

He was the lone Jaguars player that deserved Pro Bowl consideration yet he said he felt he didn’t deserve to make the Pro Bowl because he didn’t make enough big plays. However, coach Gus Bradley said Posluszny was affecting about one in every 3.5 plays, which is a very good ratio for a linebacker.

The problem was that the Jaguars were terrible against the run, giving up 131.8 yards per game rushing (29th in the NFL).

Posluszny was on the right path when he said he didn’t make enough big plays. None of the linebackers did, though Posluszny was by far the most significant contributor there. Hayes had 78 tackles but just one sack, two interceptions, and three pass breakups, although he did play through a knee injury for nearly the entire season. Allen didn’t have an interception or a sack but did recover two fumbles.

Still, that’s not enough of an impact.

Looking ahead to 2014

Players under contract: Posluszny, Allen, Hayes, Lotulelei, Thomas, LaRoy Reynolds, Nate Stupar.

The skinny: Lotulelei, Thomas, Reynolds and Stupar were mainly special teams contributors and that’s likely to be their main role in 2014 as well, though Thomas flashed a bit at the end of the 2013 season. Posluszny will again anchor the middle of the defense and Hayes, who underwent knee surgery at the end of the season, likely will go into camp as the starter.

The unit does need an upgrade, however. Whether it’s in free agency or through the draft, the Jaguars need to find athletic outside linebackers who can rush the passer and at the very least hold their own in coverage. That makes Allen’s spot on the roster tenuous unless the Jaguars are willing to keep him as a special teams player.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A look at snaps played by Jacksonville Jaguars defenders in Sunday's 30-10 loss to Indianapolis, while analyzing what it means:

LB J.T. Thomas: 70 of 70

S Johnathan Cyprien: 70 of 70

LB Paul Posluszny: 69 of 70

CB Will Blackmon: 66 of 70

CB Alan Ball: 63 of 70

DT Sen'Derrick Marks: 53 of 70

DE Tyson Alualu: 48 of 70

DE Jason Babin: 44 of 70

S Winston Guy: 38 of 70

DT Kyle Love: 37 of 70

CB Mike Harris: 33 of 70

DE Andre Branch: 33 of 70

S Josh Evans: 32 of 70

LB LaRoy Reynolds: 25 of 70

DT Jordan Miller: 19 of 70

DT Abry Jones: 17 of 70

DE Ryan Davis: 16 of 70

DT Drake Nevis: 16 of 70

DB Demetrius McCray: 9 of 70

LB John Lotulelei: 9 of 70

S Chris Prosinski: 2 of 70

LB Nate Stupar: 1 of 70

Analysis: Thomas made the second start of his career and never left the field on defense. He has played in all but 13 snaps the last two weeks. He played just 18 of 76 snaps against Buffalo. ... Nevis and Love were acquired early last week and combined for six tackles. ... The Jaguars started the game in nickel and played it for much of the game. Harris played nearly as many snaps against the Colts as he did in the last two games combined (37). ... Reynolds made six tackles and broke up one pass in his 25 snaps. ... Babin had a sack and finished the season with the team lead (7.5). Branch was second with six.

Defensive snaps: Extra work for Miller

December, 24, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A look at snaps played by Jacksonville Jaguars defenders in Sunday’s 20-16 loss to Tennessee, while analyzing what it means:

S Johnathan Cyprien: 73 of 73

LB Paul Posluszny: 72 of 73

CB Alan Ball: 71 of 73

DT Sen'Derrick Marks: 64 of 73

LB J.T. Thomas: 60 of 73

CB Will Blackmon: 56 of 73

DE Tyson Alualu: 53: of 73

DE Jason Babin: 49 of 73

DE Andre Branch: 42 of 73

S Josh Evans: 39 of 73

S Winston Guy: 36 of 73

DT Jordan Miller: 35 of 73

LB LaRoy Reynolds: 31 of 73

CB Mike Harris: 24 of 73

LB John Lotulelei: 23 of 73

DT Abry Jones: 23 of 73

CB Dwayne Gratz: 20 of 73

DE Ryan Davis: 16 of 73

DT Brandon Deaderick: 13 of 73

S Chris Prosinski: 2 of 73

LB Nate Stupar: 1 of 73

Analysis: Miller was playing in his first game this season and played nearly half the snaps because Deaderick dislocated his right elbow. A safe estimate on the number of snaps he would have played had Deaderick not gotten hurt: 10-15. ... Posluszny was off the field for only one play, because he was receiving stitches in his chin. ... Evans and Guy split the playing time at free safety. It’ll be an interesting battle between the two during the offseason to see who can win the starting job. ... Thomas and Lotulelei started alongside Posluszny because of injuries to Geno Hayes (knee) and Russell Allen (concussion). ... Blackmon was forced into more snaps because Gratz went out with an ankle injury. Gratz’s status for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis is uncertain.

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