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Inside the Jaguars: New look in the secondary

Posted Nov 8, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars to start CB Dwayne Gratz against Tennessee Sunday, with Winston Guy and Josh Evans to share time at free safety.

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars’ secondary will have a slightly different look Sunday.

Dwayne Gratz, a rookie cornerback, will make his first start since the regular-season opener on Sunday, and instead of Josh Evans playing the entire game at free safety, the rookie is expected to share repetitions with second-year veteran Winston Guy.

Guy joined the team off waivers from Seattle September 1.

“I feel like it’s a big chance,” Guy said Friday afternoon as the Jaguars (0-8) prepared to play the Tennessee Titans (4-4) at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday at 1 p.m.

“The reps I’m going to get in the game, I’m going to make sure they count.”

Evans, a sixth-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft from the University of Florida, started the last five games, having moved into the starting lineup when veteran starter Dwight Lowery sustained a concussion Week Three at Seattle. Evans currently is fifth on the team in tackles with 31 tackles.

Guy, who has one special teams tackle, previously worked mainly at strong safety, but moved to free safety and split first-team repetitions with Evans in practice this week.

“The big thing I challenged him on is the defense has to trust him,” Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said of Guy. “He understands his assignments and things like that but it’s the consistency.

“He’s 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. There’s a competition going on.”

Of Evans, Bradley said, “I think it’ll redirect his attention on 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 selection in the 2013 NFL Draft from Connecticut, started the regular-season opener against Kansas City before missing the next five games with a high ankle sprain. He played two games as a reserve, but will start opposite Alan Ball Sunday.

Will Blackmon started for Gratz the last seven games, but Bradley said all three – Gratz, Ball and Blackmon will play Sunday.

“It was my first time being injured, period,” Gratz said, adding of the last half of the season: “It’s important, because it gives me an opportunity to gain a little experience and to get my mind right and see how the game goes.

“It’s a chance to prove to these coaches I can play at this level and play well for a long time.”

Also Friday, wide receiver Stephen Williams (Achilles) was listed as doubtful on the team’s final injury report after not practicing Thursday and Friday, while tight end Danny Noble (knee) and guard/center Will Rackley (concussion) were listed as questionable.

Rackley did not practice the last two days, with second-year veteran Mike Brewster – who played 58 plays in place of Rackley against San Francisco two weeks ago – worked with the first team.

“Being the swing guy, that’s your job – you have to be ready to play,” Brewster said. “This league is all about opportunity. When you’re putting something on film, not only do you want to play good for yourself and your teammates, there are 31 other teams that are seeing that. Film is all you really have in this business.”

Bradley said Rackley could be a game-time decision.

“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.

Also around the Jaguars:

*The following players were listed as probable for Tennessee: running back Maurice Jones-Drew (knee), defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks (ankle), defensive tackle Roy Miller (shoulder), running back Denard Robinson (hamstring) and wide receiver Cecil Shorts III (groin).

*Both Stephen Burton and Jordan Todman could see time at kickoff returner Sunday, Bradley said.

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