JACKSONVILLE – This 53 isn't necessarily the final 53.
Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said while he likes much about the roster in the wake of 22 moves made official Saturday afternoon to reach the NFL's regular-season limit, the weekend's moves aren't necessarily complete.
That's because the team will continue scanning the waiver wire in the coming hours.
"We feel good about it," Caldwell said. "There's still some discussion. We're going to work through the night tonight, look at the waiver wire and see if there's a spot where we can upgrade or provide some more depth for our team. That's always a tough deal because you've got a couple of guys who feel comfortable right now.
"But that's the nature of this weekend. You've got a fluid 53-man roster. You have short window to improve your team on the waiver wire and we're going to look and see if we can take advantage of it."
The Jaguars' 22 roster moves Saturday included the release of four players and the waiving of 16 more. The team placed defensive tackle Michael Bennett (calf) on injured reserve and placed cornerback Aaron Colvin on the NFL's Reserve/Suspended by Commissioner list.
The four released players: defensive end Ryan Davis, guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, wide receiver Arrelious Benn and center Jacques McClendon. Among the waived players: fourth-year safety and 2013 sixth-round selection Josh Evans, cornerback Nick Marshall and 2016 seventh-round defensive end Tyrone Holmes.
Caldwell spoke specifically about Davis and Evans, both of whom had been with the team since Caldwell and Head Coach Gus Bradley took over in 2013.
"Those guys played a lot of football for us and did some good things," Caldwell said. "It's kind of bittersweet. We have a talented enough roster that we feel like we've upgraded, but it's bitter because we don't like to see those guys go. We have great relationships with those guys."
With final cuts made, the active roster has been finalized. Meet the team!
Caldwell also discussed keeping five running backs – starters T.J. Yeldon/Chris Ivory and reserves Denard Robinson, Corey Grant and Joe Banyard – saying the decision came down to special teams. Caldwell added Banyard had performed well on special teams and played well on offense in the preseason finale Thursday in Atlanta.
"We were trying to look at who's going to be active on our 46 [-man game-day roster],'' Caldwell said. "It's hard to get five tight ends active on the 46 as well as six receivers."
Caldwell also on Saturday discussed:
*Keeping third-year defensive end Chris Smith, a player Caldwell said improved his game-day production this preseason to make the team as the third Leo pass rusher. "The conversation around Smitty has always been, 'If he could just play the way he practices …''' Caldwell said. "Finally this year that's kind of come to fruition for him. He hasn't been as analytical and hasn't thought as much. He's just going out and kind of playing and reacting. He's been able to convert some rushes that have been pretty impressive and also play the run pretty well." …
*Releasing Davis, a four-year veteran who had been productive as an interior rusher while playing defensive end the past three seasons. Davis moved to Otto linebacker this offseason. Caldwell said the versatility of other players along the front seven and Davis' special teams role played into the decision. "It really came down to special teams and not having a great fit for him anymore," Caldwell said. …
*Keeping cornerback Josh Johnson, who signed in the offseason from the Canadian Football League. "His production has warranted him being on this team," Caldwell said of Johnson, who had two interceptions in the final three preseason games. Caldwell added that Johnson can play both nickel and outside corner, and can be an emergency returner on special teams. Caldwell said Johnson's versatility gave him an edge over Marshall, who was released Saturday. …
*The development of Neal Sterling, a second-year veteran who made the roster after moving from wide receiver to tight end in the offseason. "I have to give Neal a lot of credit," Caldwell said. "We weren't sure how quickly he was going to pick up the blocking aspect of this, but he's a tough kid and he's done a really nice job in terms of being aggressive. He's really matured a lot in his approach to the game." …
*Caldwell lauded Sterling, offensive guard Chris Reed and linebacker Hayes Pullard III. All made the 53-man roster and Caldwell said it was a tossup between the three as to which one was the team's most-improved player this offseason. …