Here is an in-depth look at the Jacksonville Jaguars
as they prepare for their season-opener against the Kansas City Chiefs
on Sunday, 1 p.m. ET.
UNIT BY UNIT ANALYSIS:
QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Blaine Gabbert
. Backups - Chad Henne
and Ricky Stanzi.
Gabbert won the job in the preseason, but it's uncertain if he will actually start the season because he broke his thumb in the second preseason game and hasn't played since. If he can't go, Henne will get the start against the Chiefs. But neither Gabbert nor Henne has looked like the long term answer in camp and the Jaguars are likely to draft their quarterback of the future in the first round next year. Henne is a capable backup but has yet to prove he can be a long term starter.
RUNNING BACKS: Starters - RB Maurice Jones-Drew and FB Will Ta'ufo'ou. Backups - Justin Forsett
, Denard Robinson
and Jordan Todman
Jones-Drew is coming back from a Lisfranc injury and hopes to show he can be the running back he was in 2011 when he led the league in rushing. This is a contract year for him, but it could also be his last year in Jacksonville because they are rebuilding. Ta'ufo'ou is the only fullback on the roster and it is uncertain how often they will use a fullback. Forsett is supposed to be the backup, but he's been sidelined with a toe injury during camp and Todman took his place and led the league in rushing in the preseason. Robinson will run the wildcat and a change of pace runner with his shifty moves and quickness.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Marcedes Lewis
. Backups - Allen Reisner, Clay Harbor and D.J. Williams.
Lewis missed the final three preseason games with a calf strain, but is expected to be ready for the regular season. He hopes to be more of a target in offensive coordinator's Jedd Fisch's new offense. Lewis is a good blocker, but the Jaguars want him to be more of a threat in the passing game. He got a new contract with he caught 10 touchdown passes in 2010 but didn't have a touchdown catch in 2011 and only four last year. Reisner has good hands and is a capable backup and a threat in two tight end sets. Harbor and Williams were claimed after the last cuts and will be special teams players.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Cecil Shorts
and Justin Blackmon
(suspended the first four games). Backups - Ace Sanders (starts with Blackmon out), Mike Brown and Stephen Burton
Shorts seems ready for a breakout season in his third year and the Jaguars think he can become a thousand-yard receiver and Pro Bowl candidate. When Blackmon returns, he can combine with Shorts to give them a very good 1-2 combination. He has good hands even though he doesn't have blazing speed. Sanders is a rookie with speed who was a good value for a fourth rounder. Brown, an undrafted rookie free agent a year ago, has emerged into a dependable receiver in his second year. Burton was claimed off waivers after the last cut to play special teams.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Eugene Monroe, LG Will Rackley, C Brad Meester, RG Uche Nwaneri, RT Luke Joeckel. Backups - G-C Mike Brewster, T Cameron Bradfield, T Austin Pasztor, G Jacques McClendon.
Although Rackley has been bothered by an ankle injury he suffered in the third preseason game, the Jaguars think they will have an improved offensive line. Rackley missed the entire 2012 season and Nwaneri played hurt much of the year and ended sidelined by a concussion. Top draft pick Joeckel will help stabilize the line at right tackle and Monroe is in a contract year at left tackle and has a lot of incentive. Rackley and Nwaneri should be dependable guards if they are healthy. And Meester is an old warrior at center in his 14th year. Even though the team is in the midst of a youth movement, they kept the savvy Meester. Bradfield was ineffective playing right tackle last year and was finally benched. McClendon was claimed off waivers after the final cuts.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LE Tyson Alualu, LDT Roy Miller, RDT Sen'Derrick Marks, Leo End Jason Babin. Backups - DE/DT Jeremy Mincey, DE Andre Branch, DT Arby Jones, DE Chris McCoy, DT Brandon Deaderick.
Instead of calling their right end a right end, they call him the Leo because he is supposed to be the best pass rusher. But Babin is 33 and no longer a top pass rusher. Rushing the passer will continue to be a major problem for this unit. Marks and Miller will give them a push up the middle but they don't have edge rushers. Alualu is switching from tackle to end on passing downs, but will come off the field on passing downs. Of the backups, Mincey lost his starting job, Jones is an undrafted rookie, Branch a second year disappointment and Deaderick a fourth year journeyman. The Jaguars will have to blitz because this unit won't put pressure on the passer.
LINEBACKERS: Starters - MLB Paul Posluszny, SLB Russell Allen, WLB Geno Hayes. Backups - LaRoy Reynolds, Kyle Knox and J.T. Thomas.
Posluszny is a tackling machine on the inside and is the heart of the defense. Allen and Hayes, signed as a free agent, are solid on the outside, but they are limited in depth. Reynolds is an undrafted rookie free agent who was impressive while Knox and Thomas just joined the team in the last week.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - LCB Dwayne Gratz, RCB Alan Ball, SS Jonathan Cyprien, FS Dwight Lowery. Backups - CB Demetrius McCray, FS Josh Evans, SS Chris Prosinski, SS Winston Guy, CB Will Blackmon.
The Jaguars revamped their secondary with two rookies, Cyrpien and Gratz. Although the Jaguars like their potential, rookies in the secondary tend to be victimized at times. Their third new starter is Ball, an unrestricted free agent who has looked good. Lowery is the only returning starter in the secondary. This could be a good secondary next season but will be victimized this year because of its youth and lack of a pass rush up front. Two backups, Guy and Blackmon, joined the team in the last week. McCray and Evans are rookies.
SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Josh Scobee, P Bryan Anger, LS Carson Tinker, KOR Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson, PR Ace Sanders, Mike Brown and Will Blackmon.
They are set in the kicking game. Scobee is a proven veteran and Anger is already a dependable punter in his second season. Tinker beat out veteran Jeremy Cain for the longer snapper job. The returners aren't set. Blackmon joined the team last week and returned a punt 21 yards and he may be in the mix with two young players, Sanders and Brown. Robinson returned only one kickoff in the preseason, but they are intrigued with his potential.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Blaine Gabbert
- Chad Henne
- Justin Blackmon
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Marcedes Lewis
- Jordan Todman
- Justin Forsett
- Denard Robinson
- Cecil Shorts