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Day Nine Takeaways: A deeper D-line


JACKSONVILLE -- Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from Day Nine of Jaguars 2015 Training Camp Monday at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields …

1)Impressive up front.We begin Day Nine takeaways on an area that has been a strength during camp, and that's the defensive front. While the line was strong last season it has been without tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (knee) and end Chris Clemons (non-football injury) throughout camp. Tackle Roy Miller also has been in and out while returning from offseason knee surgery. That's three of four starters, but the group still has looked strong – and notably, deep. Starting strong-side ends Jared Odrick (more on him later) and Tyson Alualu have been impressive, as have Leo ends Ryan Davis and Chris Smith. Perhaps most intriguingly, rookie tackle Michael Bennett appears stronger by the day and has looked good in pass-rushing drills recently. As a three-technique tackle, you expect that from Bennett, but it's notable to see it from a rookie. The Jaguars need Miller/Marks/Clemons, but indications are the depth behind those players is improved.

2)Interior thoughts.Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley on Monday lauded the performance of several players in Saturday's scrimmage. Among those players: veteran center Stefen Wisniewski. That's not to say Wisniewski is ahead of Luke Bowanko in camp's most-competitive roster battle, but it is to say Bradley is impressed with Wisniewski. "He is on it," Bradley said. "That guy has seen a lot of ball. The tricks of the trade, managing the offensive line up front … all of those things are good. The physical nature is something he wanted to improve on (in the scrimmage) and it really showed up on tape." Bradley on Monday also mentioned tight end Julius Thomas, tight end Marcedes Lewis, guard A.J. Cann, cornerback Aaron Colvin, safety Johnathan Cyprien, quarterback Blake Bortles – "especially after the first two drives" – and running back T.J. Yeldon as standing out Saturday.

3)Coming together.Bradley on Monday reiterated his thoughts from Saturday that he was pleased overall with the offensive line Saturday. Bradley emphasized the line was in a difficult spot because the scrimmage was held in a "thud" situation, meaning plays were stopped at first contact. "All of those guys would like to have it live," Bradley said. "Those second-and-nines would be second-and-sixes and second-and-fives with a running back falling forward. It's tough to get an evaluation, but the communication and how the running backs meshed in with protection was very good." Bradley said he likes the bond the offensive line is forming. "They're understanding each other's role and you're seeing it come together," Bradley said. The line struggled early, allowing sacks on each of the first two possessions, but improved noticeably thereafter. "We started off a little slow," left tackle Luke Joeckel said. "We have to come out faster and click a little better. Guys got together and in the second half of the scrimmage – after those first two series – we started clicking a little more and making plays. You take the good stuff, but you learn from the bad stuff. We can't come out the way we did. In a real game, we have to come out clicking." Joeckel also said he can feel the benefits of adding size and strength in the offseason, and he feels he is moving well, but added that he continues to work on hand placement. "It's a process, but I've got to start getting there and getting ready," Joeckel said. "We're about to go against other opponents. I have to show what I can do, for sure." 

4)Battle brewing.The kicker competition may be real; if that's weird to read it's because Josh Scobee has been entrenched there without significant competition for much of his career, particularly in recent seasons. But rookie Jason Myers has shown impressive power and accuracy in camp and converted three of three field goals Saturday, including one from 53 yards and another from 60. Scobee also had a 50-plus-yarder in the scrimmage. Kicking field goals in games is a different beast than practice or scrimmage, so this one will be intriguing to watch in the coming weeks. Myers missed several field goals in practice Monday, a reminder that this competition will be decided by far more than Saturday's scrimmage.

5)Keep an eye on … Jared Odrick.It's not news that Odrick is critical to the equation defensively. The Jaguars signed him as an unrestricted free agent with the idea that he will significantly upgrade the strong-side defensive end position that Red Bryant played last season. So far during training camp, Odrick indeed appears to be an upgrade. He started off Saturday's scrimmage with penetration to stop a running play for a loss. Odrick's athleticism should bring a pass-rushing dynamic to the strong-side end position and he also can be effective from the three-technique tackle position.

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