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2017 Combine: Jack must play bigger role, Marrone says


INDIANAPOLIS – The question was simple, and Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone answered simply.

How do you get Myles Jack on the field more?

"Put him on it?" Marrone answered.

That was trickier than might have been expected during 2016, with Jack – the Jaguars' talented second-round linebacker – starting 10 games as a rookie but often playing only on early- and run-down situations.

Marrone, who served the final two games last season as interim head coach before having the interim tag removed January 9, said Wednesday during the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine the Jaguars need more from Jack in 2017.

"We need him to become a three-down player for us," Marrone said. "There's no doubt about it. Now, where do we put him in that thing? Those are things we'll discuss when the players come back [when the offseason program begins in April].

"But I don't disagree: we want him on the field."

Jack, who many considered a potential Top-Five selection in the 2016 NFL Draft before questions about a knee issue, played all 16 games last season. But playing what the team called the "Otto" linebacker – the strong-side linebacker position – and splitting snaps with veteran Dan Skuta at the position, he played just 239 plays. That accounted for a little more than 22 percent of the team's defensive plays.

Marrone emphasized that while the team wants Jack on the field in more situations, he must be the one to force the issue.

"If he continues to ascend the way he's going … yes, we would like to get him on the field," Marrone said. "But he has to earn that right to be on the field for three downs."

Also on Wednesday:

*Marrone said he didn't believe comments made by players such as cornerback Jalen Ramsey and safety Tashaun Gipson following the 2016 regular-season finale would be a major issue when the players return in April. Ramsey and Gipson had been critical of how they were used at times last season. "It's different," Marrone said. "We're changing some of the things we're doing from a defensive standpoint. I don't want to give the impression it's a wholesale change; we're changing a couple of things back there. … Is that a concern? Anytime a player is going to speak out about something and not come to the coach first … yeah, that's a concern. Let's make no bones about that. But moving forward, to me, what's in the past is in the past.'' …

*As Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell did this past Friday, Marrone left open the possibility of offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum returning to the Jaguars next season. Beachum, the Jaguars' left tackle last season, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 9 after the team declined to exercise an option in his contract. The Jaguars have a pending trade with the Miami Dolphins to acquire left tackle Branden Albert on March 9, the start of the new league year. "It is obviously something that is still out there," Marrone said. "He is now able to speak to other teams. It is still an option for us to continue to talk to him." Of the possibility of Beachum moving to guard, Marrone said, "He has shown before that he has played the guard positon early in his career in Pittsburgh. … I think it is just a matter of just seeing where the process takes us and where he is."

*Marrone touched on the Jaguars' offensive and defensive schemes, saying that while both offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and defensive coordinator Todd Wash returned, both could be altering their systems. Marrone talked about Wash "being able to build upon the [defensive] system and do things that might be a little bit different," adding "There are things that we did differently during the year that helped us. I think Todd has a great vision for where he wants to go, where we wants to take that defense, so we are still implementing things right now for us to do a better job." Marrone said Hackett is implementing a scheme that should be versatile and play to players' strengths. "You're not actually saying, 'Okay, this is it: We need this exact type player to play here,' because … it's going to pigeon-hole you where you're not going to have the flexibility," he said. "So for us, right now in our system, we have a system in that if we want to go get a fullback, we can go get a fullback and play. If we wanted two tight ends or an F-tight end, we can play with an F-tight end. If we wanted to play with three receivers on the field constantly, we can do that. So we want the system to fit, so this way people have more of a difficult time preparing for us from a personnel standpoint, but also we can probably highlight our personnel with their strengths."

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