NFL Nation: Will Rackley

Jaguars offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
May 23
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.With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Jacksonville Jaguars' offseason moves:

Best move: It has been forgotten after the moves in free agency and excitement over the draft, but general manager David Caldwell trading Blaine Gabbert to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick was a shrewd move. Caldwell managed to get something for a player who obviously wasn't in the team's plans and was going to be cut before camp anyway. He used that pick to draft Virginia center Luke Bowanko, a player who will compete with Mike Brewster for the starting job. Caldwell essentially got a potential starter -- and at least a player who can contribute at guard as well -- for nothing.

[+] EnlargeToby Gerhart
AP Photo/Damian StrohmeyerFormer Vikings RB Toby Gerhart is largely unproven as a feature back at the NFL level.
Riskiest move: The natural assumption would be taking quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall pick, but the Jaguars at least have some insurance in the form of Chad Henne if the Bortles move doesn't work out. There is no such luxury at running back if the free-agent signing of Toby Gerhart doesn't work out. While he did produce in the limited work he got behind Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, Gerhart hasn't been a feature back since his days at Stanford. The Jaguars' only somewhat proven option behind him is Jordan Todman, a third-year back with 79 career carries.

Most surprising move: The Jaguars didn't land him, but it was a bit of a surprise to see how aggressively they pursued Cleveland center Alex Mack despite the fact that the Browns put the transition tag on him. The Jaguars put together an offer they felt Cleveland wouldn't match -- $42 million over five years ($26 million guaranteed) with a player option in the third year and a no-tag clause -- but the Browns quickly did. Still, the attempt served as a message to the rest of the league that the Jaguars aren't going to be an afterthought any longer.

Overlooked move: Drafting guard Brandon Linder in the third round didn't move the excitement needle, but he may end up being one of the Jaguars' biggest rookie contributors. The interior of the offensive line was a weakness in 2013, and the Jaguars started to fix that in free agency by signing Zane Beadles to start at left guard. Linder was picked to be the starter at right guard. The proof of how much they are counting on him was the release of guard Will Rackley, the team's third-round pick in 2011, three days after Linder was drafted. Linder played both guard spots and center at Miami, and that versatility is an added bonus.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars took the first step toward rebuilding the interior of their offensive line pretty quickly in free agency by reaching an agreement with former Denver Broncos guard Zane Beadles.

Beadles
The deal, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan, is worth $30 million over five years with $13 million guaranteed.

The offensive line was the Jaguars' top priority in free agency because of the retirement of center Brad Meester and the release of right guard Uche Nwaneri last week. The team obviously wanted an upgrade over Will Rackley, Mike Brewster, Jacques McClendon and Drew Nowak.

It's a good move by Jaguars general manager David Caldwell. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Beadles is a tough, durable player who has started 62 of a possible 64 games in the regular season since the Broncos selected him in the second round of the 2010 draft. The Broncos led the NFL in total offense and were 15th in rushing (117.1 yards per game) last season.

UPDATE: Jaguars general manager David Caldwell said Beadles was the team's primary offensive line target.

"He’s very intelligent, he’s very competitive and he’s very smart," Caldwell said. "We did a lot of work on him in Atlanta when he was coming out. He’s had a heck of a career to-date. I think he’s played in every game possible in his four years in Denver. He played in the Pro Bowl in 2012. He’s a guy with a proven track record. He’s still only 27 years old. He’s very passionate about football. I think he checks the box for everything we look for in a player and I think you guys know what that is in this culture.”

Beadles, who will play left guard, is a good fit for the Jaguars because like the Broncos they also use a zone-blocking scheme.

Interior offensive line is the Jaguars' biggest need after quarterback and pass-rusher. The group struggled early in the 2013 season with the transition to a zone-blocking scheme and the Jaguars eventually mixed back in some man-blocking schemes.

The strength of a team's running game comes from the center and two guards and those spots weren't very productive in 2013. The Jaguars finished 31st in the NFL in rushing (78.8 yards per game) and running back Maurice Jones-Drew's 3.4 per-carry average was the worst of his career. Meester was in his 14th season and not playing at the same level as he had in the past several seasons. Nwaneri played through torn cartilage in his knee in 2012 and dealt with the lingering effects from the injury in 2013 and Rackley battled a knee injury throughout the 2013 season.
The Jaguars’ release of right guard Uche Nwaneri on Tuesday gives a clear indication of their plan of attack in free agency.

Nwaneri
Center and guard will sit atop general manager David Caldwell’s list when the signing period begins on March 11. Nwaneri’s release and Brad Meester’s retirement mean the Jaguars have to find a new starter at each spot, and Caldwell would like to add at least another guard to make a significant upgrade to the interior of the line.

The Jaguars weren’t exactly hurting for salary-cap space, but releasing Nwaneri saves the team about $3.7 million in cap space for 2014. That gives them approximately $60 million to spend, and a good chunk of it will be devoted to the interior of the offensive line. That is the team's biggest need after quarterback and pass-rusher. The group struggled early last season with the transition to a zone-blocking scheme, and the Jaguars eventually mixed back in some man-blocking schemes.

The strength of a team’s running game comes from the center and two guards, and those spots for Jacksonville weren’t very productive in 2013. The Jaguars finished 31st in the NFL in rushing (78.8 yards per game), and running back Maurice Jones-Drew’s 3.4 yards per carry average was the worst of his career. Meester was in his 14th season and didn't play at the same level he had the past several seasons. Nwaneri played through torn cartilage in his knee in 2012 and dealt with the lingering effects from the injury in 2013. Starting right guard Will Rackley battled a knee injury throughout the 2013 season.

The Jaguars were thought to be going to make a run at Cleveland center Alex Mack, but the Browns placed the transition tag on him earlier this week. The Jaguars could still offer him a contract, but the Browns have five days to match the offer.

Other possibilities at center include New England’s Ryan Wendell and New Orleans’ Brian De La Puente. Possible targets at guard include Kansas City’s Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz and San Diego’s Rich Ohrnberger.

The Jaguars drafted Nwaneri in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, and he played in 104 games with 92 starts. He started and played every snap in 2013.

Free-agency series: Offensive line

February, 28, 2014
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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.
With the NFL combine starting Wednesday, here's a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars' positions of need on offense and which prospects the team might be looking to take a closer look at in Indianapolis. Positions of need are listed in order of importance. A look at the defense comes Tuesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have a lot of holes to fill on the roster and the next part in the process comes this week when general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley evaluate, watch and interview prospects at the NFL combine.

Here's a breakdown of what the Jaguars need, in order, on offense and some potential targets:

Quarterback: There's no question this is the Jaguars' top need, although pass-rusher is only slightly behind. Caldwell wants to re-sign Chad Henne before free agency begins next month, but Henne is a bridge player or someone who can mentor a young quarterback and begin the season as the starter if the rookie isn't ready. The Jaguars haven't completely given up on Blaine Gabbert, either, but he's entering the final year of his contract and it would be surprising if he were re-signed after 2014.

Potential targets: Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Aaron Murray.

Interior offensive line: The Jaguars have to find a center to replace the retired Brad Meester and a left guard to upgrade from Will Rackley. The Jaguars will address this area in free agency as well but the team also wants to add some young talent. The Jaguars appear set at both tackles (Luke Joeckel and Austin Pasztor) and right guard Uche Nwaneri has two more years remaining on his contract. He's scheduled to make $4.775 million in each year, though, and could be a cap casualty after 2014. Mike Brewster and Jacques McClendon can play guard and center but neither appears, now anyway, to be the long-term answer. It wouldn't be surprising if the team took an interior offensive lineman in the third round, especially if the Jaguars took a quarterback earlier.

Potential targets: G Gabe Jackson, G David Yankey, G Brandon Thomas, C Marcus Martin, C Weston Richburg, C Russell Bodine.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Stephen Morton/AP PhotoThe Jaguars need to find a feature back in the event they do not re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew.
Running back: The Jaguars are more than likely going to lose Maurice Jones-Drew in free agency, which leaves them with Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, Delone Carter, and Justin Forsett on the roster. Forsett is likely going to be cut, but even if he's retained none of those players is a feature back. The Jaguars don't need to invest a high pick at this spot because good backs can be found in the later middle rounds.

Potential targets: Lorenzo Taliaferro, Jerick McKinnon, Tre Mason, Lache Seastrunk, Dri Archer, Andre Williams.

Receiver: The Jaguars aren't planning on getting anything from Justin Blackmon in 2014 because they don't yet know his status, which is the correct way to approach his situation. Cecil Shorts is entering a contract year but has yet to stay healthy for a full season. Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Lamar Thomas, and Stephen Burton are complementary players. The Jaguars need to find a bigger, physical receiver. If they do that in free agency, this area drops to the bottom of the offensive needs list.

Potential targets: Josh Huff, Odell Beckham Jr., Davante Adams.

Tight end: Marcedes Lewis came on strong at the end of the season and he should be a 50-catch player in Jedd Fisch's offense if he stays healthy. After Lewis, though, there isn't much. Clay Harbor is a flex tight end but he's a free agent and the Jaguars will have to decide if they want to re-sign him. Danny Noble is raw and needs more work. The Jaguars want a bigger tight end who can line up next to Lewis in two-tight-end formations.

Potential targets: Marcel Jensen, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Crockett Gilmore, Jake Murphy.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars are going to spend the next 7 1/2 months trying to do something they haven't had to do in 14 years: Find a center.

Brad Meester was an ironman throughout his 14-year career with the Jaguars, starting and playing in a franchise-record 209 games. He was a sure a thing as you can have in football, which is why the Jaguars never invested much effort throughout his career to find another center.

[+] EnlargeJacksonville's Brad Meester
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackThe Jaguars may find a replacement for newly retired center Brad Meester on their current roster.
Since Meester was drafted in 2000, the Jaguars drafted only one other player with the intention of giving him a look at center: Will Rackley, who played guard and tackle at Lehigh. They signed nine other free agents, including undrafted free agent Mike Brewster, who was a center at Ohio State but has been a guard with the Jaguars.

There are 19 centers who are scheduled to be free agents this offseason, with the top of the class being Cleveland's Alex Mack. New England's Ryan Wendell and Denver's Dan Koppen are also big names that could be available. It'd be a bit surprising if the Jaguars went the pricey route and signed Mack, who made $3.832 million this season and will likely be asking for $4-plus million a year.

A cheaper alternative -- and one that seems the most likely right now -- would be to look on the roster to see if there's a replacement. The Jaguars have options. They could move Brewster, Rackley or guard Jacques McClendon to center. They also recently signed Matt Stankiewitch, a former Penn State standout who signed as an undrafted free agent with New England last summer, was waived in the final cuts of training camp, and spent the 2013 season out of football.

McClendon played in three games and started two others at guard this season, but he also played one snap at center when Meester moved outside and caught a pass in his final home game.

"Gus and I kind of talked about a little bit of a quick wish list," GM David Caldwell said. "I said obviously we can't fill all of our needs through free agency and through the draft but we can we fill our needs with with people that are here right now and who will anticipate filling that center role, right guard, role, or left guard role, or whatever it might be.

"I think we need to really sit down with our coaches and say, ‘Who can we fill this need with this year?' Let's use our resources, whether it's a draft pick or free agency, to go fill another need that's more of a pressing issue."

The more pressing issues are quarterback, pass-rusher, outside linebacker, and receiver. The Jaguars are unlikely to address the quarterback situation in free agency other than to re-sign Chad Henne.

Finding a center may be something the Jaguars haven't done in a while, but the solution may already be on the roster.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 15

December, 16, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars27-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills:

Grounded: One of the reasons the Jaguars had been 4-1 since the bye week was their improved rush defense. After giving up 162 yards per game in the first eight games, they had allowed opponents an average of just 71 yards in the next five games. The Bills ran for 198 yards, including 80 by Fred Jackson, 67 by C.J. Spiller and 37 by quarterback EJ Manuel. The Jaguars struggled with all the things they did well in the last five games: staying in their gaps, tackling, communication. “The biggest thing for us was the fundamentals,” defensive end Jason Babin said. “We did it to ourselves; whether it was 10 guys on the field, whether it was missed tackles, whether it was missed alignment, missed assignment, looking back I’m pretty sure when we watch the tape that’s what we’re going to see. That’s I think what makes it most frustrating, is we did it to ourselves.”

Lewis
Lewis more involved: Tight end Marcedes Lewis was more of a factor in the passing game against the Bills than he has been all season. That was partly due to the absence of receiver Cecil Shorts (groin). Getting Lewis more involved is something offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch should make a priority. Lewis caught a season-high four passes for 54 yards and one touchdown, the first time in his career he’s had touchdown catches in three consecutive games. Lewis made several catches on back-shoulder throws and scored on a screen. He can be much more of a factor in the middle of the field and certainly is a big target in the red zone. He’s a good blocker and a huge help in the running game, but if Shorts is unable to play the next two weeks, Lewis needs to get more work.

Line shuffle: With the news that backup guard Mike Brewster is out for the rest of the season with a fractured left ankle, the Jaguars’ situation on the offensive line is somewhat shaky. Brewster was in the game because starter Will Rackley did not play due to a concussion (it’s unclear how long he will be out). Jacques McClendon replaced Brewster and had an up-and-down day, committing two false starts but doing a solid job in the run game. The Jaguars likely will sign Drew Nowak from the practice squad to replace Brewster, and Nowak could be forced to start Sunday’s game against Tennessee if Rackley can’t play. Nowak has not appeared in a game in his two seasons.

Guy trouble: Winston Guy had an up-and-down day as well, but it was almost expected since he has been playing free safety all season and was forced into duty as the starting strong safety because Johnathan Cyprien (thigh) was inactive. Guy had six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, but he also missed several tackles and was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for hitting Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin in the head, a play that’s likely to draw a fine. “He has the ability to make some big plays but in four days of practice [at strong safety] like that we knew that there could be some opportunities that we missed,” coach Gus Bradley said.

Rapid Reaction: Jacksonville Jaguars

December, 15, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 27-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills:

What it means: What could have been a gut-it-out victory because of the loss of four starters turned into another loss at EverBank Field in front of 60,085 fans. The Jaguars turned it over four times, including once when Denard Robinson fumbled the ball at the Buffalo 1-yard line, and it bounced out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. The Jaguars had won three games in a row and were coming off their first victory at EverBank Field in more than a year.

Stock watch: It’s harder to be much higher than Jordan Todman, who ran for 109 yards and had 44 yards receiving. The first-year player was making his first start because Maurice Jones-Drew was inactive with a hamstring injury. Todman also had a pair of big plays, a 33-yard run on a drive that ended with a field goal, and a 30-yard catch-and-run to convert a third down and continue a drive that ended with a touchdown. Quarterback Chad Henne did not have one of his better games. He threw two interceptions, including one in the end zone late in the fourth quarter, and threw several other passes that were nearly intercepted. He made some plays with his feet and had to deal with heavy pressure, but he wasn’t able to overcome his mistakes.

Banged-up offensive line: The offensive line was hit hard by injuries. Starting left guard Will Rackley was added to the injury report on Saturday with a concussion and did not play. His replacement, Mike Brewster, suffered a left ankle injury in the first half and did not return. Jacques McClendon finished the game at left guard, which left the Jaguars with just one other healthy offensive lineman (Sam Young).

In a rush: One of the things that had keyed the Jaguars’ turnaround in the second half of the season was better rush defense. They went from allowing 162 yards per game in the first eight games to holding the next five opponents under 100 yards. That changed on Sunday, when the Bills battered the Jaguars for 198 yards on the ground. Fred Jackson rushed for 80 yards, C.J. Spiller 67, and quarterback EJ Manuel 37.

What’s next: The Jaguars play their final home game of the season against Tennessee at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Jaguars running out of options

November, 21, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have tried various things to get the running game going.

They've used more of the gap blocking scheme instead of being an exclusively zone blocking team.

Jones-Drew
Robinson
They've used the pistol formation.

They've given Denard Robinson, who never quite worked out as an offensive weapon, the No. 2 spot on the running back depth chart and some carries.

Nothing has worked. The team is still last in the NFL in rushing (61.7 yards per game), Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry and they're coming off a game in which they rushed for just 32 yards -- the fourth-lowest single-game total in franchise history.

"We need to find a way to run the ball," coach Gus Bradley said. "We just have to. It doesn't matter how good they are up front, we still have to find a way."

There's really not much left to try. Bradley said Thursday that Jordan Todman and Justin Forsett, who has played in the past two games, will get more opportunities to run the ball Sunday against Houston. Robinson may get a carry or two as well.

Jones-Drew will still get the majority of the work, but Bradley said taking some of the load off his shoulders may help him stay rested and be more effective. Jones-Drew has 157 carries. The rest of the running backs, which includes fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou, have 42.

"One of the things we looked at is throughout the NFL you see teams go with one lead back and another back might get five or six reps a game in order to keep the No. 1 guy fresh," Bradley said. "We haven't been doing that as much so that's something that we're looking into.

"It might be with MoJo that if we do that and he's fresher, we get more production."

The running game problems aren't only due to a tired Jones-Drew. The offensive line hasn't played well at all. The unit, especially the interior, struggled with the zone blocking schemes early in the season so offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch called more gap-scheme plays. That has helped a little bit but the line is still struggling to create space.

Injuries have been a factor as well. Jones-Drew was coming off a Lisfranc injury, suffered a sprained ankle in Week 2 and has been dealing with knee soreness. Left guard Will Rackley and right guard Uche Nwaneri battled knee injuries early in the season. Rackley has missed the last two games with a concussion. The Jaguars ran for a combined 86 yards in a victory over Tennessee and a loss to Arizona.

Bradley said he and Fisch have challenged the offensive line this week because they're facing a Houston defense that ranks No. 1 in the league in total defense but 23rd against the rush.

They want to see more explosive plays. The Jaguars are last in the NFL with just three rushes of 15 or more yards this season and 58.7 percent of runs have gone for 2 or less yards.

"I think I told you all a bunch of weeks ago there's going to be a lot of 2-yarders and 3-yarders," Fisch said. "The problem we're having is we're not getting the ex-play [explosive play] runs. If you don't get an ex-play run you're never going to have more than 60 yards rushing.

"What we haven't been able to do is break one. There's been times that you're like, 'Oh, that's a nice -- oh, almost broke that.' Until we break a few we'll be hovering in that 40-60-yard range and that's not good enough."

Nothing they've been doing on the ground has been.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 11

November, 18, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars' 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals:

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesThe Cardinals limited Maurice Jones-Drew to just 23 yards on 14 carries.
Aggressive approach: Coach Gus Bradley wants his team to take some chances. They won't always work, but being conservative doesn't make much sense for a team that entered the game 1-8, either. That's why he went for it on fourth down from his own 38-yard line less than three minutes into the game and allowed kicker Josh Scobee to attempt a 60-yard field goal just before the half. We will see more of those decisions, Bradley said. "No one wants to [lose]," he said. "We'll work hard to avoid it, but what I think what I liked is we weren't afraid to fail. We were bold in our decisions. The fourth-down call, trying the 60-yard field goal, there was many situations where I felt like we were bold and I told our team that we need to take that personality on and reflect it. We'll continue to build in that direction."

Anger management: Punter Bryan Anger kept the Jaguars in the game in the second half while the offense was sputtering by pinning the Cardinals deep in their own territory. Arizona started four consecutive drives at its 9, 10, 2 and 10 in the third and fourth quarters following Anger punts. In all but one case the Cardinals ended up gaining fewer than 7 yards. The only exception came on Michael Floyd's 91-yard catch-and-run that was helped by three missed tackles. Anger averaged 47.8 yards on eight punts and put six inside the 20.

Ground struggles: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew continues to struggle. He ran for 41 yards on 21 carries in last week's game against Tennessee and had 23 yards on 14 carries against Arizona. Part of the issue is the offensive line, which is starting its Nos. 3 and 4 offensive tackles and hasn't had starting left guard Will Rackley since the San Francisco game on Oct. 27. However, the line hasn't played well when it was completely healthy, either. Jones-Drew, who missed the final 10 games last season with a Lisfranc injury and has battled ankle and knee issues this season, looks a half-step slow and doesn't seem to have the burst he did throughout his career. The Cardinals did come into the game with the NFL's No. 3 rush defense, but the Jaguars need a better showing than 23 yards. "They loaded the box and wanted to make sure that we couldn't run the ball," Jones-Drew said. "Sometimes you have to keep fighting that uphill battle and hopefully things will break."

Pressure: The Jaguars didn't have much luck getting to Carson Palmer with a four-man rush, so they went with some different pressure packages that included linebackers or defensive backs rushing. Bradley had challenged the front four to get more pressure because the defense has been vulnerable when blitzing because the secondary hadn't been able to hold the coverage until the pressure got to the quarterback. That's what happened again Sunday. The Cardinals' two biggest pass plays -- the 91-yard touchdown and a 37-yard pass to Floyd -- came when the Jaguars sent extra rushers and the Cardinals picked it up.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny missed his third consecutive practice with a concussion, but coach Gus Bradley said there’s still a chance Posluszny could play in Sunday’s game against Arizona.

Posluszny
Bradley also said starting left guard Will Rackley is doubtful because of a concussion. Reserve receivers Stephen Burton (concussion) and Stephen Williams (Achilles) are out.

But it’s potentially not having Posluszny that hurts the most. He is the team’s best defensive player and responsible for three of the defense’s 12 turnovers. He has a team-high 88 tackles, two interceptions, eight pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

"We’ll see how Paul feels in the morning," Bradley said. "We still have tomorrow morning to evaluate it and see where he’s at."

Posluszny, who suffered the concussion in the fourth quarter of the Jaguars’ 29-27 victory against Tennessee last Sunday, did not practice all week.

Outside linebacker Russell Allen, who has started 39 games in his five seasons, will start in place of Posluszny. Allen set career highs in tackles (201) and pass breakups (eight) in 2012, and has 40 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

"Fortunately we’ve had all week of practice with Russell in there and he’s done a nice job this whole week," Bradley said. "He was thrown into a little tougher situation last week with the limited amount of reps, so at least this week he got multiple reps.

"That’s where Russell’s so important to us -- in other ways, too -- but the flexibility to play multiple positions."

Rackley missed last week’s game with a concussion suffered against San Francisco on Oct. 27. He was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but did not practice Friday.
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.

Monroe trade may be just first move

October, 1, 2013
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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.

Jags make no progress in ground game

September, 29, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Uche Nwaneri was clearly frustrated after Sunday’s 37-3 loss to Indianapolis.

Not just at the 34-point margin, but because of how poorly the team ran the ball. And not just against the Colts, either. The 40 yards on 18 carries was embarrassing enough, but it was just a continuation of a month-long struggle to find success on the ground.

"That’s an elite back right there," Nwaneri said, nodding his head toward Maurice Jones-Drew, who ran 13 times for 23 yards, the second-lowest total of his career in a game in which he had double-digit carries. "For him not to get yards, it makes me angry just because I know he should be getting yards."

Jones-Drew and the Jaguars haven’t been getting them all season. After four games they’re averaging 49 yards per game and haven’t rushed for more than 71, which they did in the opener. Jones-Drew has 138 yards on 57 carries (2.4 yards per carry) and his longest run of the season is for 10 yards.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsMaurice Jones-Drew had just 23 yards on another frustrating day for the Jaguars' run game.
Though the Jaguars ran for fewer yards (34) against Oakland, that was somewhat mitigated by Jones-Drew leaving the game in the first half because of an ankle injury. The Jaguars’ longest carry against the Colts on Sunday was for 6 yards.

There are several reasons for the struggles, which is why it’s going to be tough to fix. The interior of the offensive line -- center Brad Meester and guards Nwaneri and Will Rackley -- have not played well, although they were better against the Colts than during the first three weeks. The unit as a whole has not adjusted to the zone-blocking scheme as quickly as was hoped. Teams are also stacking the box and not worrying about the passing game because of the Jaguars’ lack of playmakers.

The result is a paltry 2.3 yards per carry, which, if it were to hold for the next 12 games, would shatter the team record for fewest yards per carry over a season (3.8 in 1997).

"It’s very frustrating," Jones-Drew said. "We’re just not executing at the right speed and the right tempo to go out there and put up points. That’s something we have to continue to work on to fix. Obviously, yelling and screaming is not going to help. We have to look at each other and look in the mirror and see what we have to do better as a person and go out there and execute your job. And that’s on everybody."

The Jaguars ran more power and gap-blocked plays on Sunday than they had in previous games, but it didn’t make any difference. The Colts crowded the line of scrimmage by bringing a safety close to the box and limited the Jaguars to 2.2 yards per carry. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said opponents will do that until his team can make plays in the passing game to force defenses into using two safeties in coverage.

"If we can get the defense to loosen up some …" Bradley said. “We’re seeing a lot of eight-man boxes, man coverage, extra guy on the shelf. We’re not seeing a lot of split safety. We have to get them in those situations to where teams just can’t load up the box and defend the run for us."

The Jaguars haven’t been able to do it because they’re devoid of playmakers in the pass game except for Cecil Shorts. Defenses are rolling coverages his way and making the Jaguars beat them with a mix of Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Stephen Burton, Tobais Palmer and Jeremy Ebert. There’s no help at tight end either because Marcedes Lewis lasted less than a quarter before having to leave the game after aggravating a calf injury.

That’s no excuse, though. Four of the five starters on the offensive line are the same players who blocked for Jones-Drew when he led the NFL in rushing in 2011. The Jaguars averaged a franchise-low 136.2 yards per game passing that season.

"There’s been years before that we haven’t had a passing game and we’ve been able to run the ball," Jones-Drew said. "I just think we have to be more of a balanced offense. We’ve got to continue to run the ball efficiently, throw the ball, convert first downs and move.

"We haven’t been helping our defense out at all. We just have to figure out how to move the chains a little bit and start there."

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