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Caldwell speaks: Seeing good signs


CHANDLER'S CROSS, England – David Caldwell sees a lot to like about the Jaguars' roster.

Not that there aren't struggles. And not that there aren't growing pains with a rookie quarterback and a slew of rookies on offense around him.

But when speaking with local and international media as the Jaguars prepared for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys at Wembley Stadium, Caldwell – now midway through his second season as the Jaguars' General Manager – said he sees a lot of positives from a lot of areas.

And yes, he said, having perspective and another 'P Word' is critical.

"It's very important to stay patient," Caldwell said Thursday as the Jaguars (1-8) prepared to play the Dallas Cowboys (6-3) at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday at 1 p.m.

"It's critical that when we took this team over we said that we were going to do it with youth and we were going to develop our own players. That's why we hired (Head) Coach (Gus) Bradley, because we knew he had such a great record developing young players in Seattle (as defensive coordinator from 2009-2012)."

The Jaguars currently features 13 of 22 starters in their first or second season, with four rookies – including quarterback Blake Bortles – starting on offense. They have the NFL's youngest roster at 25.5 years.

"The benefits of these young guys is they're seeing everything for the first time," Caldwell said. "You're aware, too, that they're seeing it for the first time so this time next year we shouldn't be having this conversation. We won't be as patient with some of the mistakes that they're making right now, so you have to live with a little bit of a roller coaster. There's going to be some highs and lows and that's just because of some of the inconsistencies."

Caldwell cited rookies such as linebacker Telvin Smith, center Luke Bowanko and guard Brandon Linder as playing well, and said Bortles has developed through six games as a starter essentially as the team expected.

He also said while he didn't know an exact number, he isn't surprised that the team is so rookie-heavy offensively this season.

 "We thought it was a clear possibility, just with the makeup of our roster last year offensively," Caldwell said.

Caldwell said with center Brad Meester approaching retirement, guard Uche Nwaneri being older and guard Will Rackley guard being oft-injured, it was clear the offensive line had to be "revamped" after last season. He also said with running back Maurice Jones-Drew possibly not returning, it was clear running back would be an issue, too.

"We knew there'd be the potential (of being young)," Caldwell said. "We didn't know they would be all rookies at the time, but the depth of the draft on the offensive side of the ball was something where we said, 'Let's take advantage of the depth of the draft on the offensive side of the ball this year.'

"It forces our coaches to have a lot of patience and it also really stresses them. I give our coaching staff a ton of credit for the way they've handled it and the way they've developed them."

Caldwell had said around the midway point of last season he believed the Jaguars would improve in the second half. That happened, with the team winning four of five games after a Week 9 bye. He said he has seen signs the team could play better in the second half of this season, too.

"Outside of the Washington game and the first half of Indianapolis we've played some good football," Caldwell said. "That's not our goal. Our goal is not to just play good football and be competitive; our goal is to finish out some of these games and continue to achieve some victories. It's a growing process and I've seen great signs that in the last half of the season we can achieve those victories if we can close out some of these games."

Caldwell also on Wednesday discussed:

*The logistical challenge of London, saying if the league is to continue playing there regularly it may need to mandate players having passports. The Jaguars flew two newly-acquired players to Miami last week for passports, and newly signed linebacker Khairi Fortt flew to Connecticut before traveling to London this week. "A player could possibly miss out on an opportunity to come over here and play and be signed if he doesn't have a passport," Caldwell said. …

*The development of second-year running back Denard Robinson, who has rushed for more than 100 yards a game over the last three games: "You have to give him all the credit, and the coaching staff, for his development. He had a mindset. He met with (Jaguars Head) Coach (Gus) Bradley at the end of last year and asked what he needed to do. Coach Bradley laid it out for him, and over the offseason he got serious about football and gained about 20 pounds and maintained his weight. He's just going to continue to get better. I even think there's higher ceiling for him than where he is now." …

*Safety Johnathan Cyprien, a second-year veteran who Caldwell said is "playing at a very high level – just his run fits, his ability to come up and make the tackle … He's been very productive against the run." Caldwell added that cornerback Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray are also improving. "I think we'll continue to see improvement from those guys." Of the entire secondary, he said, "Those guys are coming along." …

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