NFL Nation: Cameron Bradfield

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.
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 NFL Nation's Michael DiRocco examines the three biggest issues facing the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into training camp.

Offensive line: Only one of the five spots is settled heading into camp: Zane Beadles, whom the team signed in March, is the starting left guard. Almost every other spot is up for grabs. I use "almost" because Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall pick in 2013, will start at left tackle, and the team drafted him to be the line's cornerstone. He spent the first four games last season at right tackle and played a quarter at left tackle before a season-ending injury. While the Jags believe he's going to be an elite player, he still has to prove it. Mike Brewster is the leader at center, but he has never snapped in his three-year career. Right guard will be a battle between Jacques McClendon and rookie Brandon Linder. Austin Pasztor started 12 games at right tackle last season but will be pushed by Cameron Bradfield, who started the final 11 games at left tackle after Joeckel's injury. Regardless of who wins the position battles, the line has to be better than it was last season. The Jaguars averaged a franchise-worst 78.8 yards per game rushing last season, and a big reason was the play of the interior of the offensive line.

Wide receivers: The Jaguars know what they have in fourth-year player Cecil Shorts (123 career catches). They believe they know what they've got in second-year player Ace Sanders, provided he continues to develop following his 51-catch rookie season. But who are Nos. 3-6? It would seem second-round picks Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson would naturally be the next two, but both missed most organized team activities and all of minicamp with injuries. They're supposed to be fully cleared for camp, but they missed valuable time working with receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, a technician of the finer points of routes, footwork and hand position. Rookie receivers are a crap shoot in the NFL, and there's no guarantee if both are healthy that they'll be able to contribute as much as Sanders did. Kerry Taylor and Mike Brown combined to catch 54 passes last season. Taylor is a bit bigger (6-foot, 200 pounds) than Brown (5-10, 200 pounds), but both can play in the slot or outside. Taylor might have a slight advantage because he was healthy throughout the offseason, while Brown was one of seven receivers who missed significant time because of an injury. A group of undrafted players, led by former Miami standout Allen Hurns, also will compete for the final two spots on the roster. It's important that this group stays healthy, too, because the injuries really affected the offense during minicamp. It was hard for any of the quarterbacks to move the ball consistently.

Pass rush: The Jaguars have had one of the worst pass rushes over the past five season and finished last in the NFL in sacks in 2013 and 2012. Buffalo led the NFL with 57 sacks last season. The Jaguars have 51 in the past two seasons combined, including 20 in 2012. The team took steps to remedy that by signing defensive end Chris Clemons (58 career sacks) and linebacker Dekoda Watson, a young player whom the Jaguars plan on using in their new otto position and rushing the passer on third downs. However, he sat out OTAs and minicamp with a groin injury and former undrafted rookie LaRoy Reynolds got the reps there. Third-year defensive end Andre Branch came on late last season (five of his six sacks in the last seven games) and had a great offseason, and the coaching staff is counting on him rotating with Clemons. The Jaguars felt good enough about Branch and young players Ryan Davis and Gerald Rivers that they released Jason Babin (62.5 career sacks) on the last day of the minicamp. However, Davis and Rivers have played in a combined eight games and have a combined eight tackles and one sack, so that's making a leap of faith that they'll be able to produce in a reserve role.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell is close to putting together what could become a pretty good offensive line.

Provided the Cleveland Browns don't match whatever offer the Jaguars are expected to make to center Alex Mack on Friday, of course.

Mack
If the Jaguars are able to land the Pro Bowler, Caldwell will have put together a group of players that has a chance to become the team's best offensive line in more than a decade. The 6-foot-4, 311-pound Mack is a significant upgrade from Brad Meester, who retired after the 2013 season, physically and has shown he's adept at handling the myriad of disguised fronts and looks defenses are using.

The Jaguars added Pro Bowler Zane Beadles (6-4, 305) in free agency and installed him as the starter at left guard, lining up alongside second-year tackle Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall pick in 2013. Joeckel (6-6, 306) played in only five games, four at right tackle and less than a half at left tackle. He did show a lot of promise in the short time he was on the left side, keeping St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, who had 19 sacks last season, at bay.

When Joeckel moved from right tackle to left tackle following Eugene Monroe's trade to Baltimore, first-year player Austin Pasztor stepped into the starting job at right tackle and held onto the job for the rest of the season. The coaching staff likes the 6-7, 308-pounder and is excited about his potential as a long-term starter.

The only question mark is what the team will do at right guard. The Jaguars released Uche Nwaneri last month and could move left guard Will Rackley, who started 12 games last season, into that spot. The Jaguars also could try Mike Brewster, Jacques McClendon or Cameron Bradfield there as well, or draft a guard in the middle rounds.

Another possibility -- which seems unlikely at this point -- would be for the Jaguars to draft Greg Robinson or Luke Matthews at No. 3 and slide Pasztor to right guard.

Even taking the uncertainty at right guard into consideration, the Jaguars' new-look line has the potential to be pretty formidable over the next several seasons, as long as Joeckel continues to develop and Mack and Beadles continue to play at a Pro Bowl level.

The Jaguars haven't had a truly dominant offensive line since the 1999 season. That group was anchored by left tackle Tony Boselli, generally recognized as the best left tackle in the game at the time, and right tackle Leon Searcy. Ben Coleman, Zach Wiegert and Rich Tylski were the guards and John Wade started every game at center.

The '99 team didn't set any rushing records but long-time Jaguars observers consider that the best offensive line in team history. The Jaguars did go 14-2 that season and lost to Tennessee in the AFC Championship game.

The potential lineup in 2014 and beyond has a chance to be better than any group the Jaguars have had in the last decade. At the very least it's pretty much a guarantee that newly-acquired running back Toby Gerhart is going to be spending a large amount of time running behind the left side.
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.

Jaguars sign three players

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars signed a trio of impending free agents on Thursday, including restricted free agent offensive tackle Cameron Bradfield, who started 11 games at left tackle last season.

The team also signed reserve offensive tackle Sam Young and reserve tight end Clay Harbor, both unrestricted free agents. Terms of the three contracts were not announced.

The 6-foot-4, 308-pound Bradfield played in a career-high 15 games last season and became the starter after Luke Joeckel suffered a fractured ankle in Week 5 against St. Louis. He’s an experienced player (38 games, 25 starts) who can play both right and left tackle so he provides good depth.

The 6-foot-8, 316-pound Young played in four games for Buffalo before being released on Oct. 7. The Jaguars claimed him the next day and he played in 11 games, mainly on special teams.

Harbor caught 24 passes for 292 yards for two touchdowns and has 71 catches for 713 yards and six touchdowns in four seasons in the NFL (first three with Philadelphia). The Jaguars need at least another pass-catcher at the position and he can also line up as a receiver in a pinch.
Cameron Bradfield

Position: Offensive tackle

Type: Restricted

Summary: He played in a career-high 15 games and started 11 games at left tackle. He became the permanent starter after Luke Joeckel suffered a fractured ankle in Week 5 against St. Louis.

Why keep him: He’s an experienced player (38 games, 25 starts) who can play both right and left tackle so he provides good depth. Plus, he turns 27 in September.

Why let him go: Joeckel and Austin Pasztor project to be the starting tackles and the team may opt to find a younger, cheaper alternative to Bradfield. He has obviously proved he can start in the league and another team may give him a much better offer than the Jaguars are willing to match.

Best guess: He re-signs and gives the Jaguars quality depth.

Free-agency series: Offensive line

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
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Here is the fifth of a 10-part series breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars' free-agency needs, position by position:

Offensive line

Who is on the roster: OT Cameron Bradfield, G/C Mike Brewster, OT Luke Joeckel, C Patrick Lewis, OT DeMarcus Love, G Jacques McClendon, G Stephane Milhim, G Drew Nowak, G Uche Nwaneri, OT Austin Pasztor, G Will Rackley, and OT Sam Young.

Joeckel
Analysis: Injuries hurt the unit early in the season and really impacted it late. The group struggled in the transition to a zone-blocking scheme early in the season as well, which is why the Jaguars finished the first eight games last in the NFL in rushing. Joeckel, whom the Jaguars took with the No. 2 overall pick, spent the first four weeks of the season at right tackle before moving to his natural spot at left tackle following the trade of Eugene Monroe. He played less than a quarter against St. Louis before suffering a fractured ankle, but he was handling Robert Quinn (who finished with 19.0 sacks) pretty well before he got hurt. His injury forced Bradfield and Pasztor into the lineup, and Pasztor played surprisingly well. The team is encouraged by his potential. The biggest issue is the interior of the line. Brad Meester retired, so the Jaguars need a center. Nwaneri was solid at right guard, but left guard was an issue because Rackley played hurt all season and the Jaguars could never generate much push in the middle of the line.

NFL free agents of interest: C Alex Mack, C Ryan Wendell, C Brian De La Puenta, G Jon Asamoah, G Geoff Schwartz, and G Rich Ohrnberger.

Need meter: 9. After quarterback and leo, the interior of the offensive line is the Jaguars’ biggest need. GM David Caldwell has said the team would like to address that in free agency, and it would be a surprise if the Jaguars didn’t sign at least two starters, including a center, within the first few weeks of free agency. It’s unlikely the Jaguars would target the big names that are available, mainly because of cost, but if those players linger on the market and the price drops, the Jaguars would get involved. Even though Joeckel is talented and seemed to thrive in the very limited time he spent at left tackle, there are still questions about him, so the Jaguars might opt to add some experienced depth at tackle. Competition for roster spots on the line will be among the more interesting training camp battles.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars' final games of the 2013 season are really more about evaluation than victories.

It's ideal to be able to do both, but it's more important for general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley to be able to evaluate some of the younger players on the roster as they continue to reshape and rebuild the franchise. Are they worth keeping or should the Jaguars (4-10) go in a different direction?

They may have gotten their answer about Jordan Todman.

The first-year running back, pressed into his first start because of Maurice Jones-Drew's hamstring injury, responded with 153 all-purpose yards in the Jaguars' 27-20 loss to Buffalo in front of 60,085 at EverBank Field on Sunday. It was a performance that showed he can be a role player -- and possibly even more -- in 2014.

[+] EnlargeJacksonville's Jordan Todman
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesJordan Todman rushed for 109 yards and added another 44 yards receiving against Buffalo.
"It's up to them and it's their decision, but I want to be able to do what I have to do, whatever they need me, whatever it takes," Todman said. "If it's a couple carries, if it's 20 carries, any opportunity that I get I'm thankful and blessed to have it.

"I'm a believer that everything happens for a reason and today was a perfect example. I had that opportunity to do that and when my time comes I'm going to work hard and make sure I'm ready for it."

Todman rushed for 109 yards on 25 carries and caught four passes for 44 yards, but it was his timing that should have Caldwell and Bradley intrigued. Todman made big plays on three of the Jaguars' four scoring drives:

He had a 16-yard run on second-and-13 to extend a drive that ended with Josh Scobee's 32-yard field goal.

He had a 33-yard run on second-and-10 on the second play of a drive that ended with Scobee's 55-yard field goal.

Todman's biggest play of the day was a 30-yard catch-and-run on third-and-12 to the Buffalo 14-yard line to set up Chad Henne's 13-yard touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis to tie the game at 20-20 early in the fourth quarter.

Todman's teammates were not surprised at what he did against the Bills. He led the team in rushing in the preseason and they have watched him do some of those things in practice. Rushing for more than 100 yards, which Jones-Drew had done just once in the previous 13 games, was a bit of an eye-opener, though.

"Ever since he's been here he's played hard," left tackle Cameron Bradfield said. "Never takes plays off and very fast guy. I think he did -- I'm not going to say what we expected or what we thought he would do -- but good job by him today."

Does Sunday's performance mean Todman, who had 138 yards on 43 carries coming into the day, is going to be the Jaguars' feature back in 2014? No, but it does show that he can shoulder a bigger load as a complementary back. Jones-Drew's contract expires after this season and the Jaguars are interesting in re-signing the franchise's second all-time leading rusher.

Jones-Drew will be 29 next season and his body is starting to wear down, so it'd be best to have another back capable of sharing carries closer to a 50-50 split. Todman made his case Sunday to be that back.

"I feel like this has been my dream to one day be a starter and I've been putting in the work throughout preseason and throughout the season," Todman said. "You see what you can showcase and kind of say the sky's the limit and try not to give yourself a set goal and just kind of let the chips fall as they go."

Bradley was pleased with what he saw from Todman, especially in the second half when he ran for 73 yards on 14 carries. Bradley said he was eager to see how Todman handled the bigger workload because he has only had one game in which he has carried the ball more than seven times (11 against Houston on Nov. 24).

"He's had six, eight carries, now he was going to get a lot more," Bradley said. "So that's what we concentrated on as a staff and said this game presents opportunities for a lot of these young guys for us to evaluate where they are and how they're going to fit in. And I think that guys took advantage of that."

Top of the list was Todman.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars' offense hasn't had any trouble starting fast the last two weeks.

It's the rest of the game that has been the problem.

It happened in a 29-27 victory over Tennessee on Nov. 10 but the Jaguars were able to hang on and get their first victory over the season. They couldn't overcome it against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at EverBank Field, however, and lost 27-14.

[+] EnlargeDespite a strong first quarter, Chad Henne and the Jacksonville offense could not score for the rest of the game.
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesChad Henne
The Jaguars scored two touchdowns -- their first at EverBank this season -- and racked up 111 yards in the first quarter. But penalties, an injury to an already-depleted receiving corps, and the lack of a running game crushed the early momentum. The result was the ninth loss of the season and sixth consecutive loss at EverBank Field.

"After those scores we struggled," head coach Gus Bradley said. "We had quite a few three-and-outs. I know we had some second-and-longs, some penalties that showed up in the second half, a couple interceptions. We've got to overcome that. We've really got to continue to challenge our guys to step up and make plays."

The Jaguars (1-9) managed just two first downs in the second quarter and two more in the third. They managed just 163 yards in the final three quarters and 58 came after the Cardinals took a 24-14 lead. Why such a poor performance?

Penalties hurt. A false start on third-and-8 by receiver Ace Sanders in the second quarter. Early in the fourth, center Brad Meester and guard Uche Nwaneri had false starts on the same drive. A holding penalty on tackle Cameron Bradfield wiped out a 21-yard reception by Maurice Jones-Drew.

The running game was non-existent, too. That's not surprising considering the Cardinals entered the day with the NFL's third-ranked rush defense, but Jones-Drew and the offensive line really struggled. The Jaguars ran for just 32 yards on 16 carries and Jones-Drew ran 14 times for 23 yards, which is the second-lowest total of his career in games in which he's had double-digit carries.

The Jaguars were already short at receiver with the suspension of Justin Blackmon and Stephen Burton missing the game with a concussion, but Mike Brown left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury. That meant the Jaguars had to use Kerry Taylor, whom the team claimed off waivers from Arizona on Nov. 4, in a bigger role.

Sanders, Brown, Taylor and tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Clay Harbor were pretty much quarterback Chad Henne's only options because No. 1 receiver Cecil Shorts was being shadowed by Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson. Until the final four minutes of the game, Henne targeted Shorts just once. In those final four minutes, Henne threw to Shorts four times.

Shorts was clearly frustrated.

"There was opportunities throughout the game I should have been involved in," Shorts said. "But, you know, it is what it is. I can't control what the … We can do better as an offense."

Henne wasn't particularly effective, either. Though he completed 27 of 42 passes for 255 yards and one touchdown, he threw two interceptions and didn't challenge the Arizona secondary. As noted, he didn't look for Shorts until the game was well in hand and there were instances where he was open against Peterson.

He settled for shorter passes too often, too, especially on several third downs. It seemed as if he was overly concerned with Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu.

"It was tough," Henne said. "Patrick Peterson's a great corner and we knew we were going to have some problems with him. But Cecil, I thought, in some of his one-on-one routes did some really good things with it. They were playing a high safety. Their guys up front are good pass rushers, so we wanted to get the ball out quick, get it out on time, and I think we definitely accomplished some of that."

It was a typical Henne game. Several good throws, several bad, and a mixture of safe stuff. But he couldn't lead the offense to any points despite starting possessions at his own 40, the Arizona 42, midfield, and his own 42. Punt, punt, punt, interception.

"Field position was outstanding," Bradley said. "We had a couple times we started on the 50 and there in. Those we have to come away with some points. We have to. Even if it's a field goal, to get it down there inside the 35. We took a sack on one. We were on the 36 yard line, the 38-yard line, trying to get it to the 35, we take a sack. Throw it away and give it a chance. We'll continue to grow on those decisions."

It's not all on Henne, Shorts said.

"I felt like we had a lot of momentum at the beginning of the game," said Shorts, who caught just two passes for 22 yards. "We had penalties. When we're in their territory we need to at least get three points. We're on their side of the 50, we can't have a penalty, first-and-15, and we get a positive play, then another penalty, first-and-20. We can't have stuff like that. We need to at least get three every time we're in their territory. We've just got to do better. We need to execute."
A weekly examination of the Jaguars' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 32 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Jaguars lost their fifth game this season -- and 10th in a row dating back to last season -- Sunday, but there is a bit of optimism around the locker room because the team did make some progress on offense. They ran the ball for a season-high 96 yards and receiver Justin Blackmon made an instant impact on the offense in his return from a four-game suspension.

The loss of left tackle Luke Joeckel (broken right ankle) is a huge blow and is another in a list of injuries that have impacted the offense, but his replacement, Cameron Bradfield, played solidly in his place against the Rams and started 12 games for the Jaguars at right tackle last season. Quarterback Chad Henne will likely start in place of Blaine Gabbert (hamstring), who has thrown seven interceptions in three starts -- including three that have been returned for touchdowns.

But the sobering reality is this is still the worst team in the NFL, and this Sunday’s matchup is against the Denver Broncos, who are averaging 46.0 points per game. The Broncos are 28-point favorites, which ties the largest spread in NFL history, and it’s hard to argue that spread is unreasonable.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 5

October, 7, 2013
10/07/13
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A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars' 34-20 loss to the St. Louis Rams:

TO troubles: The Jaguars are not 14 points worse than the Rams, but they ended up that way because they continue to hurt themselves with turnovers. The Blaine Gabbert pass that sailed over Justin Blackmon's head and was intercepted and returned for a touchdown was one of his worst throws of the season. Clay Harbor's fumble on the sideline, which led to a Rams TD, happened because he didn't cover the ball as he was going to the ground. Gabbert's second interception was to a completely covered Cecil Shorts in the end zone on fourth down. The Jaguars are now minus-7 in turnover margin this season. “There are so many times when these games come back to the small security of making good decisions with the ball,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “We will continue to emphasize that.”

[+] EnlargeJacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew
AP Photo/L.G. PattersonMaurice Jones-Drew rushed for a season-best 70 yards against the Rams.
Run game makes progress: The Jaguars entered the weekend averaging just 49.0 yards per game rushing, but nearly doubled that against the Rams, running for 96 yards on 25 carries. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for a season-high 70 yards on 17 carries and had his first big run of the season, a 20-yarder that helped set up a field goal. This came with a new right tackle (Austin Pasztor) and the third player to play left tackle in a week (Cameron Bradfield). The Jaguars had success later in the game running the ball out of the pistol and having center Brad Meester slide down the left side of the line to help block the edge. “That's how the run game goes,” Jones-Drew said. “At first it's like 2 yards, zero, negative-3, and then after a while you start breaking runs. The offensive line did a great job of capturing the edge and we were able to make some runs. We want to continue building on that and it takes time.”

More TE damage: Bradley disagreed with an assessment earlier last week that the Jaguars were having trouble handling tight ends. Guys weren't getting beat one-on-one. There were coverage busts, especially against Seattle. Both happened again against the Rams. Lance Kendricks and Jared Cook combined to catch seven passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. Nearly half of those receptions were key plays, too. Kendricks had a 16-yard TD catch and also had another 16-yard catch on second-and-9. Both came on play-action rollouts in which Kendricks shadowed Bradford across the field and eluded linebackers. Cook had a 14-yard catch in the middle of the field against safety Johnathan Cyprien on a third-and-10 play and he also was the beneficiary of a 21-yard pass interference penalty by cornerback Will Blackmon.

More mistakes: Committing only four penalties for 45 yards normally would be a laudable stat, but nothing is that simple with the Jaguars. LaRoy Reynolds' illegal block above the waist wiped out Ace Sanders' 88-yard punt return for a touchdown and Blackmon's pass interference penalty jump-started a scoring drive that ended with a field goal.

ST. LOUIS -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 34-20 loss to the St. Louis Rams:

What it means: The Jaguars lost their fifth game of the season but there was progress. The team scored a season-high 20 points, it was a seven-point game at one point in the fourth quarter and the running game finally got moving (96 yards, including 70 by Maurice Jones-Drew). But the kinds of mistakes the Jaguars have made all season resurfaced and resulted in the franchise’s 10th consecutive loss dating back to last season. Blaine Gabbert air-mailed a pass over Justin Blackmon's head that was intercepted and returned 82 yards for a touchdown. LaRoy Reynolds was penalized for an illegal block above the waist that nullified Ace Sanders' 88-yard punt return for a touchdown. The Jaguars did score on that possession, but it is an example of how penalties have hurt this team all season. Clay Harbor also fumbled and the Rams turned that into a touchdown, too. Still, the offense ended up with a season-high 363 yards.

Gabbert hurt again: Gabbert was forced to leave the game in the second half after injuring his left hamstring. He had completed nine of 19 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown but threw two interceptions. It was a typical Gabbert performance: He threw several passes that flashed his potential but he also had plays where he panicked in the pocket and took off running and overthrew open receivers. He was replaced by Chad Henne, who led the Jaguars to one touchdown.

Stock watch: The Jaguars’ offensive line is essentially down two starters from the unit that opened the season. The team traded starting left tackle Eugene Monroe to Baltimore early in the week and Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall draft pick last April, moved from right tackle to left tackle but injured his ankle in the first quarter and did not return. Cameron Bradfield, who started 12 games at right tackle last season, stepped in for Joeckel.

Now you see him, now you don’t: Blackmon returned from a four-game suspension and made an immediate impact on the offense, catching five passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came on a pass over the middle and he out-ran the secondary for 67 yards. But Blackmon had only two more catches.

What’s next: The Jaguars play at Denver on Sunday.

Monroe trade may be just first move

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars' trade of offensive tackle Eugene Monroe to the Baltimore Ravens for multiple draft picks, first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, is likely to be the first of numerous moves involving some of the team’s high-profile players in the next several months.

The 2013 season was going to be a wash anyway, but now that it appears the Jaguars are headed for what could be a historically bad season, general manager Dave Caldwell is turning his attention toward the 2014 season and beyond.

[+] EnlargeJacksonville's Dave Caldwell
AP Photo/John RaouxJaguars general manager Dave Caldwell is getting a jump on 2014 by trading Eugene Monroe.
In trading Monroe, who is in the final year of his contract, the Jaguars at least get something for a player they apparently had no desire to re-sign. Draft picks, even late-round ones, are valuable commodities for a team that needs a near complete roster overhaul before it can even be competitive. Whether the team uses those picks for bottom-of-the-roster players or packages them to move up or down, Caldwell is giving himself some flexibility in next May’s draft.

And he’s likely not finished. The Jaguars haven’t played well and weren’t likely to win more than a couple of games, so why not essentially blow the team up now and get a head start on 2014 and 2015? There are several other veteran players who could be traded: guard Uche Nwaneri and running back Maurice Jones-Drew, for example.

Nwaneri signed a five-year extension reportedly worth $24 million in 2010. He, along with center Brad Meester and guard Will Rackley, has struggled this season, although Nwaneri and Rackley are dealing with knee injuries. Jones-Drew is in the final year of his contract and is unlikely to be re-signed.

Tight end Marcedes Lewis, who has played only two snaps this season because of a calf injury, also could be a target. Lewis signed a five-year contract worth $35 million ($17 million guaranteed) in 2011.

Not one of those players, all of whom are 28 or older, is in the team’s long-term plans. If Caldwell can get anything substantive for them, it’s almost a no-brainer. It’s not going to be easy to watch the product on the field, but everything now is about 2014 and 2015.

As for what the Monroe trade means on the field right now, it’s time to welcome first-round pick Luke Joeckel to left tackle. That’s where he played at Texas A&M, but he was moved to right tackle once he arrived in Jacksonville.

Cameron Bradfield, a third-year player the team signed as an undrafted rookie in 2011, likely moves into the starting spot at right tackle. He started 12 games there last season.
Popular thinking in Jacksonville is that the presence of No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel at right tackle will have a direct bearing on tight end Marcedes Lewis.

The team got poor play from Cameron Bradfield and Guy Whimper on the right edge of last year’s offensive line, which meant Lewis, a solid blocker, was held in to help far more often than was ideal.

Joeckel will be a far steadier player. That should free Lewis up to be a target more often for quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne.

[+] EnlargeLuke Joeckel
AP Photo/John RaouxThe Jaguars have Luke Joeckel, left, slotted at right tackle, which should free up tight end Marcedes Lewis to run more pass routes.
“You like to think you can block these guys by yourself, one-on-one, every play,” Joeckel said. “But you’re going against some of the best athletes in the league and if you’re having trouble, there are protections set up to get help from Marcedes and the other tight ends. It’s something that’s part of the game now because the pass-rushers are so good and so athletic.

“So I accept the help whenever I can get it. Everyone needs help sometimes and it is a big help when they are able to do that for us. But we’ve got to have the mindset that we’ve got to be able to block guys one-on-one to get more guys out for routes.”

At Texas A&M, Joeckel was very close friends with Jake Matthews. Matthews will now flip from right tackle to left tackle for the Aggies and figures to be a high draft pick next year.

Jake Matthews' father, Bruce Matthews, is an Oilers-Titans Hall of Fame offensive lineman who now coaches the Titans' offensive line. (Here are his thoughts on Joeckel after the draft.)

Joeckel got to talk football with Bruce Matthews during A&M spring practice as Joeckel watched his twin brother, Matt, and Matthews watched his son.

“I had a chance to talk to him about what to expect, he knew the schedule and all that stuff, he had a lot of good tips about what I need to be ready for and was a big help that way,” Joeckel said.

I wondered if Bruce Matthews told Joeckel that there will come a time that such advice gets cut off, considering the Jaguars and Titans play in the same division.

“I hope he keeps giving me advice when he can,” Joeckel said. “I’ll probably have to ask Jake to ask his dad now, that’s probably the route I’ll have to use.”

In 2009, with his first pick as an NFL general manager, Gene Smith selected Eugene Monroe at No. 8 overall. Smith believed the foundation of his Jacksonville Jaguars should start with a cornerstone lineman.

Joeckel
Four years later, Smith’s successor, David Caldwell, has gone the same direction with his first pick, Thursday's second overall.

Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M was long presumed to be the top pick in this draft, but Kansas City chose Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher instead.

New Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said recently that if the team drafted a premier tackle at the top, the newcomer would play on the right, with Monroe remaining on the left. That, of course, could change.

Monroe has been a good player for the Jaguars, not a great one. I don’t think longtime line coach Andy Heck maximized the talents of many of the team’s guys. Now Heck is, interestingly, with the Chiefs and will coach Fisher, while George Yarno will work with Monroe and Joeckel.

Having two left tackles and playing one on the right side isn’t a crime. A year from now, Monroe might leave as a free agent. We’ll have to see how he plays, how much the Jaguars want him, how much he wants to stay. If Caldwell had drafted a defender, all those questions still could have been in play for Monroe after 2013.

At worst, in a year, the Jaguars would shift Joeckel to left tackle and probably get an upgrade.

For 2013, the Jaguars just became a significantly better pass-protecting team, which helps Blaine Gabbert's chance to improve or creates a better setting for a new quarterback. They get better blocking for Maurice Jones-Drew, too.

Right tackle was a disaster area last year with Cameron Bradfield starting 12 games and Guy Whimper starting four. Neither was up to the task.

Cross it off the list of issues.

Pass rush, cornerback and strong safety remain massive holes, and a quarterback could be in play with the first pick in the second round Friday night. Or sooner, if the Jaguars trade back into the first round.

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