NFL Nation: Josh Evans

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.
Got questions about the Jaguars? I'll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.
 
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. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars begin organized team activities (OTAs) on Tuesday. While the players are only allowed to wear helmets and are restricted to six hours of work per day it marks the first time the veterans and rookies will be together, so it’s the first chance to get a glimpse at how the team may look in September.

Here are five things to ponder during the 10 OTAs and mandatory minicamp over the next four weeks:

Gerhart
The running back depth chart: Despite the Jaguars' confidence in Toby Gerhart, there is still some doubt among those outside the team over his ability to be a feature back. He has not done it since his days at Stanford, spending the past four seasons backing up Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. The plan is around 20 touches per game, but if he’s not able to handle that workload or be productive, there are not a whole lot of options behind him. Second-year player Jordan Todman, who backed up Maurice Jones-Drew last season and ran for 109 yards in his only start of the season, is the only proven ball carrier behind Gerhart. Denard Robinson has to fix his ball security issues. Seventh-round pick Storm Johnson has quickly become a fan favorite, but he was taken that late for a reason. Moments after drafting him, coach Gus Bradley said Johnson really struggles in pass protection and he also has trouble holding onto the football. After Johnson, it’s undrafted rookies Beau Blankenship and Terrance Cobb.

Who’s No. 5-6? There are four locks to make the team at receiver: Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. After that, there’s a wide-open competition for the fifth and sixth spots between Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Chad Bumphis, Damian Copeland, Tandon Doss, Allen Hurns and Lamaar Thomas. Doss has more career catches (26) than any of the others, plus he’s got good size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds). However, his issue in Baltimore the past three seasons was running routes consistently and drops. He is a solid kick returner and that gives him an advantage over the others. Brown and Taylor were on the roster last season and have valuable experience in offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s system, but so does Hurns, a former Miami standout who played two seasons under Fisch as the Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator.

Henne
Bortles vs. Henne: It’s not really a competition between first-round pick Blake Bortles and veteran Chad Henne at this point, but it will be interesting to see them throwing together. The thing to watch will be the 11-on-11, in which Henne should have a significant advantage. He is completely comfortable in the offense and therefore his throws should be quicker and more decisive. If Bortles looks comparable, that may be a clue the competition in training camp may start off closer than most anticipated.

Joeckel’s return: Luke Joeckel spent only about a quarter at left tackle before suffering a fractured ankle that kept him out for the rest of the 2013 season. He spent all of training camp and the first four weeks at right tackle, so this will essentially be his rookie season at left tackle. Defensive coordinator Bob Babich will at times put four leos on the field on third down, so it’ll be interesting to watch Joeckel match up against some of the pass-rushers. One matchup I’d like to see is Joeckel vs. rookie Chris Smith, who doesn't have prototypical leo size (he’s 6-1) but has long arms and is very quick off the line. The Jaguars want to see Joeckel play the way he did before getting injured against St. Louis when he pretty much stoned Robert Quinn, who went on to record 19 sacks last season.

Safety dance: Johnathan Cyprien is the starting strong safety. That’s set in stone. But the situation at free safety is less certain. Josh Evans (sixth round) and Winston Guy (waiver wire) shared the spot last season, but the Jaguars signed a pair of undrafted rookies -- Craig Loston and Jerome Junior -- to compete with Evans and Guy along with Chris Prosinski, Joe Young and Sherrod Martin. Evans really shouldn’t have been on the field as much as he was last season but was forced into action because of an injury to Dwight Lowery in Week 3. That experience should give him an advantage going into OTAs. This position battle will be one of the more interesting ones to watch throughout training camp and preseason.
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.

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 29
Preseason Power Ranking: 29

Biggest surprise: When the Jaguars signed defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks to a one-year, $1.5 million contract last April, they thought he’d be a good fit in coach Gus Bradley’s system. Turns out he was a perfect fit. Marks plays the three-technique, which means he lines up on the guard’s outside shoulder, and that position is supposed to provide interior pass rush. Marks finished with four sacks, nine quarterback pressures and eight pass breakups -- all numbers that equaled or surpassed the totals from his first four seasons. He seemed to make at least one impactful play every game and he accounted for two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. His play earned him a four-year contract extension as one of the building blocks of the defense.

Biggest disappointment: The Jaguars’ inability to consistently run the ball, especially early in the season, was vexing. The Jaguars switched from a predominantly man-blocking scheme to a zone-blocking scheme, and the offensive line had trouble with the transition. Four of the five starters at the beginning of the season also started in 2011, when Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing. The Jaguars mixed in more man-blocking schemes as the season progressed and things got better, but the problem wasn’t “fixed.” In addition, Jones-Drew clearly was not the same player he was two years ago. He missed all but six games last season with a Lisfranc injury and also battled ankle, knee and hamstring issues this season.

Biggest need: The Jaguars have a pretty long list of needs, but two stand out above all others: quarterback and pass-rusher. Quarterback is the top need because former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert isn’t the answer and neither is Chad Henne, who will be a free agent but wants to return to Jacksonville in 2014. The Jaguars haven’t had a bona fide threat at quarterback since coach Jack Del Rio put Mark Brunell on the bench for Byron Leftwich in 2003. New general manager David Caldwell and Bradley need a player around which to build the franchise, and the Jaguars will have the opportunity to possibly find one when they pick third overall in May’s draft.

Team MVP: The first impulse is to go with middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, whose 161 tackles ranked second in the NFL. He was clearly the team’s best defensive player and arguably the best overall player. However, what Henne did to stabilize the offense earns him MVP honors. Gabbert had played terribly in the first part of the season (seven INTs, one TD) and Henne stepped in and played the most consistent football of his career. He didn’t always light it up and he made some poor decisions and mistakes, but he kept the Jaguars in games in the second half of the season and made enough plays to go 4-4 after the bye. He threw nine touchdown passes -- including the game winner against Cleveland with 40 seconds to play -- and five interceptions over the final five games.

MJD says 50-50 chance for Sunday

December, 13, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said he has a 50-50 chance of playing in Sunday’s game against Buffalo because of a strained right hamstring.

He was one of two players listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report. The other is safety Johnathan Cyprien, who hasn’t practiced the past two days because of a thigh injury.

"It doesn’t look real good for either of them right now," coach Gus Bradley said Friday afternoon.

Both will work out on Sunday morning to see if they’re able to play. If Jones-Drew can’t play, first-year back Jordan Todman would make the start in his place. If Cyprien can’t play, Winston Guy or Chris Prosinski would start at strong safety alongside Josh Evans at free safety.

Not having Jones-Drew would be the more significant loss. He leads the team with 719 yards and five touchdowns rushing, and is third with 34 catches for 239 yards.

Jones-Drew tried to test his hamstring on Friday, but said he couldn’t run full speed.

"Right now it’s just real tight," Jones-Drew said. "You’ve got to let it loosen up and get back to where it feels like the other one or close to it.

"I couldn’t open up yet. If I can’t do that then I’m not going to go out there, because I won’t be able to be myself. Hopefully I’ll be able to go out there Sunday, but if not be set up for next week."

Receiver Cecil Shorts also might be a game-day decision, but he was able to practice on a limited basis on Friday, and is listed as questionable on the injury report.

Shorts joins Jones-Drew on iffy list

December, 12, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars were already unsure of Maurice Jones-Drew's status for Sunday's game against Buffalo, and now receiver Cecil Shorts may not play, either.

Shorts
Jones-Drew (hamstring) and Shorts (groin) have not practiced all week and are expected to test their injuries on Friday, but coach Gus Bradley said there's a chance a decision on their chances of playing may not be made until just before kickoff.

"I think they're both very questionable," Bradley said Thursday. "We've got our fingers crossed on both of them."

Shorts has been battling a groin injury for much of the season and has managed it by not practicing on Wednesdays and being limited on Thursdays. That schedule got thrown off last week because the Jaguars played Houston on Thursday night and that wasn't sufficient time to rest his groin from the previous Sunday's game against Cleveland.

Jones-Drew
He played against the Texans but left the game late because of the pain. He's hoping the extra three days of rest between that game and Sunday's game against the Bills will be enough to allow his groin to improve.

"I've been dealing with it all year," Shorts said. "It's not getting better; it's getting worse.

"I think I'm going to go out there tomorrow and get some reps and stuff. We'll see how it feels tomorrow and then [make a] game-time decision as Gus said. If I'm able to play, I'm playing. No doubt about it. I have no problem dealing with pain but when it comes to your [groin] area, it's a little different."

Shorts leads the Jaguars in receptions (66), yards (77), and receiving touchdowns (three). If he is unable to play, Bradley said Kerry Taylor would start in his place. Taylor was signed on Nov. 4 from Arizona's practice squad and has caught three passes for 27 yards in four games.

Taylor would also be the team's kick returner if Jones-Drew is unable to play because regular kick returner Jordan Todman would start for Jones-Drew.

A third starter, safety Johnathan Cyprien, also did not practice Thursday because of a thigh injury. Bradley said he feels the best about Cyprien's chances of playing than any of the other injured players. Cyprien has started every game at strong safety this season and is second on the team with 83 tackles.

Defensive tackle Roy Miller (shoulder) and linebacker Geno Hayes (knee) also did not practice on Thursday because they were given the day off to rest their injuries. They are expected to play Sunday.

Safety Josh Evans (shoulder), guard Uche Nwaneri (shoulder), offensive tackle Austin Pasztor (shoulder), safety Chris Prosinski (concussion), and kicker Josh Scobee (left hip) were limited.
HOUSTON -- Safety Josh Evans sounded a lot like a real estate agent on Sunday when he was explaining how the Jaguars defended Houston receiver Andre Johnson.

Location, location, location.

Everyone needed to know exactly where Johnson was at all times, Evans said. Find him when he left the huddle, check where he lined up, keep an eye on him when he went in motion, and make sure he didn’t go anywhere unaccompanied after the snap.

[+] EnlargeHouston's Andre Johnson
AP Photo/Patric SchneiderThe Jaguars' corralled Andre Johnson all afternoon, limiting the Texans' star to just two receptions.
"The whole thing was to see where he was at on the field at all times and I think we did a good job of that," Evans said after the Jaguars' 13-6 victory at Reliant Stadium. "We know that he was their main threat and their main guy they wanted to go to, so eliminating him just kind of made things a little easier for the defense."

The Jaguars didn’t eliminate Johnson from the game, but they came pretty darn close. Johnson caught just two passes for 36 yards: a 15-yarder on third-and-6 early in the third quarter and a 21-yarder on third-and-4 on the Texans’ final drive.

It was his worst performance of the season, surpassing his three-catch day in the Texans’ 34-3 loss to San Francisco.

"We suck as an offense," Johnson said. "That’s pretty much it."

But the Texans didn’t stink at getting Johnson the ball this season. He entered the game second in the NFL with 72 catches and needed just 34 yards for his seventh’s 1,000-yard season. Quarterback Case Keenum targeted him once in the first quarter, once in the second, and once early in the third before the two finally hooked up for a 15-yard gain.

Johnson should have had his first catch in the second quarter on a deep in, but safety Winston Guy hammered Johnson from behind and knocked the ball loose.

"That’s one of those plays you need throughout the game," cornerback Alan Ball said. "When they get big hits like that no matter what it does to the offensive player it ignites us. That was a boost for us."

The Jaguars play almost exclusively man coverage and Ball drew Johnson most of the game. He was rarely alone, though. He had safety help over the top and a player without coverage responsibilities sliding over to help on shorter routes. Another factor was the pass rush. The Jaguars got good pressure on Keenum, sometimes using blitzes up the middle, and was able to rattle him into some errant throws.

The Jaguars sacked Keenum twice, hit him five other times, and broke up nine passes, including two at the line of scrimmage by tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. One of Marks’ deflections came on a throw to Johnson.

"Our D-line did a great job," middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "You put pressure on and that makes a world of difference. All of a sudden the quarterback can't stand in the pocket and look for No. 80 downfield. He’s got guys in his face. That makes a world of difference."

Making Johnson a non-factor was a bit surprising considering Arizona’s Carson Palmer threw for 419 yards last week and Michael Floyd caught six passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. Evans said the secondary was stung by that performance and felt that corralling Johnson would be a good way to make up for it.

But he didn’t know just how good of a job they had done.

"As the game’s going you honestly don’t even pay attention to it that much because you’re trying to work on getting off the field on third down," Evans said. "But you start noticing, ‘Hey, we’re starting to do a pretty good job on him and he hasn’t had a lot of touches.’"

Jags stop the run, but not much else

November, 17, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks has said for a while that it would be pretty simple to fix the Jaguars’ porous rush defense.

Everyone just needed to do their job. Stay in their assigned gap. Quit freelancing. Just do what you’re supposed to do on each play.

Turns out he was correct.

[+] EnlargeGus Bradley
AP Photo/Stephen MortonGus Bradley and the Jaguars held the Cardinals to 14 rushing yards on Sunday, but were burned for several big plays through the air.
The Jaguars held Arizona to just 14 yards on the ground in a 27-14 loss at EverBank Field. That’s the second-lowest single-game total in franchise history, behind only the 10 yards the Jaguars yielded to Kansas City in 2007.

It also is pretty much the only positive thing you can say about the defense on Sunday.

Carson Palmer threw for 419 yards and two touchdowns, including a 91-yarder to Michael Floyd in which three players missed a tackle, and the Cardinals controlled the ball for nearly 36 minutes. But the defensive front -- which was without middle linebacker and leading tackler Paul Posluszny (concussion) -- showed up.

"Just like I’ve been saying the whole year, every time we’ve had runs get out on us, we have a guy out of a gap," Marks said. "Our thing was after the bye we had to hold everybody accountable. We’ve been doing it ever since we came off the bye week. We’ve got guys in the right gaps, and everybody is where they’re supposed to be.

"Everybody’s been accountable, and when you do that you tend to stop the run."

Rashard Mendenhall gained 14 yards on 13 carries. One of which was a 5-yard touchdown run, which means he managed just nine yards on his other 12 carries. Andre Ellington, a speedy breakaway threat, managed just 3 yards on eight carries. The Jaguars entered the game giving up an average of 153.0 yards per game rushing.

"We were aware of the run game, and we did not want that to get going," head coach Gus Bradley said. "We did a good job attacking the run and controlling Ellington."

The defense certainly felt the loss of Posluszny, who is by far the team’s best defensive player. He has two interceptions, eight pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Posluszny didn’t practice all week, and was finally ruled out on Saturday morning. Russell Allen, who normally starts at outside linebacker, filled in and made seven tackles, but failed to deliver a big play.

Actually, he made one but it didn’t count. He stepped in front of Palmer’s pass to Larry Fitzgerald inside the Jacksonville 20-yard line in the third quarter, but officials announced that the Cardinals had called timeout before the snap.

"I think you grow to appreciate Poz and what he’s all about, but for Russell to step in and manage the defense like he did ... then he had the interception that would have helped out," Bradley said. "He did a nice job managing the defense. If he got more reps [during the week] we would see even better."

The Jaguars were certainly better against the run than in stopping Palmer, Fitzgerald, Floyd, and whichever tight end happened to be in the game at the time. Floyd caught six passes for 193 yards, including a 91-yard catch-and-run in which Allen, safety Josh Evans, and cornerback Will Blackmon missed tackles.

Fitzgerald caught a modest six passes for 61 yards and one touchdown, but tight ends Jim Dray, Jake Ballard and Rob Housler combined to catch nine passes for 117 yards -- continuing the trend of tight ends taking advantage of the Jaguars’ rookie safeties (Evans and Johnathan Cyprien).

Things could have been even worse had cornerback Alan Ball not broken up four passes in the first half.

The Tennessee Titans had similar trouble on the ground (83 yards) and success through the air (288 yards, two TDs) last week. The biggest difference is the Jaguars forced the Titans into four turnovers. They didn’t get any against the Cardinals.

"We feel good about how we played against the run, and we felt like it was something we were going to be able to do going in, but unfortunately we gave up too many big plays in the passing game," Allen said. "Any time we can give our offense a short field it’s important, giving them an opportunity to put points on the board. Getting some breaks ... would have helped a lot."
Here are five things to watch in Sunday’s Jacksonville Jaguars-Tennessee Titans game at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.

Tackling: The Jaguars have missed a lot of tackles this season, including 12 in their previous game against San Francisco. Defensive coordinator Bob Babich said they worked on it two days this week, so let’s see if it’s any better. It has been especially poor in the secondary. It’s vital that it’s better Sunday, because Chris Johnson needs only a small advantage to bust a big run. He has six TD runs of 80 or more yards in his career. Miss a tackle and give him a chance to accelerate, and you’re done.

Shorts
Replacing Blackmon: Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said Mike Brown, Ace Sanders and Stephen Burton will get more opportunities with Justin Blackmon suspended for the season. But he doesn’t want them to try and replace Blackmon. He just wants them to do what they’re supposed to do on each play. “If you start trying to be somebody else or try to step in somebody else’s shoes, all you’re going to do is add pressure and stress to yourself that’s unnecessary,” Fisch said. “That’s the same for everyone on the team.” Brown (13 catches for 226 yards), Sanders (26 catches for 182 yards) and Burton (seven catches for 65 yards) need to play well in order to take some of the load off Cecil Shorts (team-high 46 catches), who has to step back into the No. 1 spot.

Brewster’s time: Starting left guard Will Rackley (concussion) will be a game-time decision. If he can’t go then Mike Brewster will make his first start of the season. He started seven games at left guard as a rookie last season, and Gus Bradley said he considered inserting Brewster into the lineup early this season when the interior of the offense line was struggling. Brewster has played mainly on special teams. After playing 25 snaps on offense in the opener he didn’t play another until he got in for one snap against San Diego. He came in for Rackley against San Francisco.

Back end help: Rookie free safety Josh Evans has struggled the past few games with missed tackles and blown coverages. In an effort to get more consistency at the position, Bradley said Winston Guy will get snaps against Tennessee. Guy has played just four snaps on defense since the team claimed him off waivers from Seattle on Sept. 1. From what Bradley said in announcing the move, Evans has lost focus, and sitting down for some snaps could help him in the long run.

Kickoff returner: Jordan Todman bobbled several kickoffs against San Francisco, but will be back as the kickoff returner against the Titans. Bradley said the team looked at Burton as a possible replacement, but he has decided to keep Todman as the primary returner. He said Burton still could get a chance on Sunday. Todman averages 24.5 yards per kickoff return on 12 returns. Burton averages 24.8 yards on four returns.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars might not have left guard Will Rackley in the lineup for Sunday’s game at Tennessee because of a reappearance of concussion symptoms.

Head coach Gus Bradley said Friday that Rackley was undergoing further tests and might be a game-time decision.

Rackley
"We are not going to push anything with Will Rackley, and will see how he feels leading up to the game and make our decision," Bradley said.

If Rackley can’t play, second-year player Mike Brewster would take his spot in the lineup.

Bradley also announced three lineup tweaks: Winston Guy will get reps at free safety, and cornerback Dwayne Gratz will return to the starting lineup for the first time since the season opener.

Guy, a second-year player whom the Jaguars claimed off waivers from Seattle on Sept. 1, has played just four snaps on defense this season. Rookie Josh Evans has played every snap there since joining the lineup in Week 3 after Dwight Lowery suffered a concussion.

Evans has made 31 tackles, but has just one pass breakup and has struggled with bad angles and missed tackles.

"He [Guy] has shown more consistency, and we just felt like at the free safety spot we just needed to increase that level of play so we’re competing there," Bradley said. "I think it’ll re-direct his [Evans] attention to the competition part of it, and if that’s what he needs to help be focused, then we’ll do that."

Gratz, the Jaguars’ third-round draft pick, suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener and missed the next five games. He has played in a reserve role the past two games, but will make his second career start on Sunday.

He’ll replace seven-year veteran Will Blackmon in the starting lineup, but Bradley said the team will use a rotation of Gratz, Blackmon and Alan Ball as the cornerbacks.

Jaguars missing too many tackles

November, 7, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars had a lot of issues to address on Monday when coach Gus Bradley brought the team together for what he called a State of the Union message.

One of the biggest was missed tackles.

The Jaguars have missed a lot, especially in the past two games, and it’s one of the reasons they’re last in the NFL in rush defense and scoring.

"We’re missing far too many tackles, and it’s leading to explosive plays," Bradley said.

[+] EnlargeZac Stacy
Scott Kane/USA TODAY SportsThe Jaguars, last in the NFL in rushing defense, have put an emphasis on limiting explosive plays.
Defensive coordinator Bob Babich said tackling was emphasized on Monday and Wednesday and he has seen an improvement in practice. The problem is a lack of fundamentals, not only in terms of wrapping up -- which seems to be a problem throughout the NFL -- but taking proper angles and good positioning.

The Jaguars’ tackling woes were most visible against San Francisco on Oct. 27 when they missed 12, including three on Kendall Hunters' 41-yard run. Safety Josh Evans whiffed, safety Johnathan Cyprien didn’t wrap up, and cornerback Alan Ball went along for a ride. Had Evans been able the make the tackle, Hunter would have only had 11 yards.

Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said the defensive front isn’t doing a good job of staying in assigned gaps, which leads to longer runs where the running backs get into the open field and are able to make a move to juke potential tacklers.

"We went in and saw that we need everybody to be accountable," Marks said. "That’s our main thing, because we’ll play games and there’s only three runs that get out on us for 30, 40, 50 yards. We take those runs away where we make contact at 8 yards, 9 yards then the rushing yards average will go down.

"We’ve got to be accountable and make tackles. That has been our biggest thing. Tackling hasn’t been emphasized as much as it should. We’ve been doing that a lot this week. Guys making sure we are where we’re supposed to be and we make tackles."

That’s especially important against the Titans and Chris Johnson on Sunday. He’s one of the most dangerous backs in the NFL. With his speed and elusiveness, he needs only a small crease to break a big run -- and he’s done that a lot. He has six touchdown runs of 80 or more yards, the most in NFL history. No other player has more than three.

Johnson also has 11 career rushing touchdowns of 50 or more yards, and three career touchdown receptions of 50 or more yards.

He had been pretty quiet this season until last Sunday’s game against St. Louis, when he ran for a season-high 150 yards and two touchdowns. The Jaguars are giving up a league-worst 161.8 yards per game rushing. That’s two reasons the Jaguars can’t afford to miss tackles at LP Field.

"We put a big emphasis on it the first two practices of this week and it seems to have gotten a lot better, but we’ll see Sunday," Babich said. "It’s a problem. It was a concern and we addressed it. We need to get it right, period."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It has been an ugly first half of the season for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

They’ve lost every game by double digits -- the average margin is 22 points -- and are riding a 13-game losing streak that dates back to a Nov. 25, 2012, when they beat Tennessee. They rank last in the NFL in total offense and rush defense, 31st in rush offense, and 27th in total defense.

They haven’t scored a touchdown at EverBank Field since the first quarter of the 2012 regular-season home finale.

Ugly, indeed.

There have been slivers of good work in parts of the team in the first eight games, but the overall body of work deserves an F.

In breaking that grade down, it's clear this midseason report card isn’t going to be pretty. In fact, it’s the kind of report card that gets you grounded for weeks:

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