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A look at the final roster


There were no surprises and none were expected. Roster cuts have become amazingly predictable in a league of coaches who profess to be so passionately committed to competition.

One decision coach Jack Del Rio made this weekend is, however, more than noteworthy. Del Rio's decision to take wide receiver Jerry Porter off PUP (physically unable to perform) and put him on the active roster is the big news of the roster-cut weekend.

This was the one we were all watching. Had Porter stayed on PUP, he would've had to stay there for at least the first six weeks of the season, which would've been a major negative for a team that gave Porter $10 million in free agency to be the big-play, deep receiver this team has had so much difficulty finding.

Yeah, it's good news that Porter isn't on PUP, but what does it say that the Jaguars kept six wide receivers? Five is usually a high-water number. Six? It says Porter isn't ready to go, yet, and that begs the question, when?

Let's take a look at the Jaguars roster. What other questions might we have?

Quarterback—Until the preseason finale in Washington, there was a major question mark next to Cleo Lemon's name: Could the Jaguars win with him? Lemon eased concerns and quieted his critics with a strong performance in Washington and, all of a sudden, the Garrard-Lemon one-two punch appears to be formidable.

Running back—The quality and depth here may be the best in the league. The trio of Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew and Greg Jones address every need. The Jaguars running game should be at its strongest this season.

Wide receiver—The need for a deep receiver remains. Troy Williamson has deep speed and caught a deep ball late in the preseason finale, but that was against the Redskins' scrubs. Even with six, this is not a group that's likely to scare an opponent.

Tight end—It's all about Marcedes Lewis. He's poised to become one of the elite tight ends in the league and David Garrard desperately needs a deep-seam receiver. There is also plenty of depth and blocking power at the position.

Offensive line—Vince Manuwai is poised to be recognized as one of the top road-grading guards in the league this year. Brad Meester is expected to return at center by midseason, which should restore this line to a high level of performance, but what about left tackle? That's the trouble spot heading into the season, and when your quarterback isn't sure of what's happening on his blind side, it's a big problem. Khalif Barnes holds the key to this group's performance. The Jaguars desperately need Barnes to take his game back to the high level that was projected for him following his very promising rookie season.

Defensive line—If Derrick Harvey is the player the Jaguars expect him to be, everything is fixed. He's the missing link. He's the one player the Jaguars needed more than any other; an every-downs defensive end to complete the front four.

Linebacker—If there was one curious decision in roster cuts, it's that the Jaguars kept seven linebackers. What are they going to do with them all? Mike Peterson, Daryl Smith, Justin Durant and Clint Ingram are all they need. That quartet can do it all.

Defensive backs—Rashean Mathis and Drayton Florence are top cover corners, Brian Williams upgrades the strong safety position and Reggie Nelson appears to be on the verge of stardom. Scott Starks and Gerald Sensabaugh offer dependable depth.

Special teams—Josh Scobee has one of the game's elite legs. Scobee has improved his field goal accuracy and would seem to be ready to make a run at the Pro Bowl, if his coach would stop going for it on fourth down. Punter Adam Podlesh was unremarkable in the preseason. More is expected from Podlesh, in whom the Jaguars invested a fourth-round pick a year ago. Jones-Drew is a top kickoff-return man, Dennis Northcutt is a dependable punt-returner and rookie Brian Witherspoon has beep-beep speed and home-run return potential. Gunners are many; this team is blessed with players who love to run down under punts and kicks. Montell Owens is the best of that bunch. He may be the league's best at covering kicks.

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