JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways Saturday from Day Two of Jaguars 2015 Training Camp at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields …
1.Battle in the middle.We begin Day Two 2015 Training Camp Takeaways in the middle of the offense. That's at center, where second-year veteran Luke Bowanko and fifth-year veteran Stefen Wisniewski will compete for the starting job. Bowanko, a sixth-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft who started 14 games as a rookie, worked with the starters on Day One with Wisniewski – a starter for the Oakland Raiders the past four seasons – working with the first team Saturday. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Saturday the two will continue to alternate daily – and sometimes within a practice by period. It's vogue among observers to say Wisniewski is the likely starter because of his experience, but because Wisniewski was limited throughout the offseason rehabilitating a shoulder injury this competition very much will begin when the pads go on. Shoulder pads go on Sunday and full-padded work is expected to begin Wednesday. Bradley said it's an even battle for now.
2.Showing up.One of the more intriguing players in the first two days of camp is veteran wide receiver Arrelious Benn, who has a chance to win the No. 5 receiver role behind second-year veterans Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee and rookie Rashad Greene. Benn has NFL ability as evidenced by his second-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He missed the 2013 season with the Philadelphia Eagles with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and injuries have hampered him throughout his career, but he has 59 career receptions 892 yards and five touchdowns and his size (6-feet-2, 220 pounds) and speed is intriguing. "He's really strong, and when you look at a guy that could be a fourth or fifth receiver, that guy's got to play a lot of special teams," Bradley said. "If he's a No. 5, he's going to have to play four-core (on special teams), so that size is an advantage." Benn had perhaps the highlight play of training camp thus far – a difficult catch in traffic Friday that energized the fans in packed grandstands.
3.In and out with Odrick. The Jaguars have versatility on the defensive front. So far in camp, they're using it. We mentioned Friday that strong-side defensive end Tyson Alualu's ability to play inside at the three-technique tackle spot will be critical, and the same is true of Jared Odrick. One of the team's highest-profile offseason unrestricted free agent acquisitions, Odrick is expected to start at the strong-side end spot, but he also has worked inside at the three-technique in the first two days of camp. "I think that he has position flexibility for us," Bradley said. "He has played both. That's what we liked about him. He actually has played three spots – six-technique, inside on the tackle and also over the guard. His versatility is one thing that really intrigued us."
4.Health a key.Remaining injury-free is a battle for every NFL team, but it seems particularly important this training camp for the Jaguars' defensive line. The group played at a high level last season, converting on a high number of pressures to help the defense register 45 sacks – the sixth-most in the NFL. With rookie Dante Fowler Jr. out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, there's no obvious source for a significant jump in the sack number, but this is a veteran group capable of producing without a superstar. A key will be how quickly defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks can not only return but get close to his 2014 level (eight-and-a-half sacks). The rest of the group must stay healthy, too, because this is a group that doesn't look like it can afford too many more injuries.
5.Keep an eye on …Nick Marshall. The rookie cornerback from Auburn University is making the transition from quarterback in college to NFL cornerback. It's too early to say whether Marshall will make the final 53-man roster, but has shown big-time athleticism even beyond an interception returned for a touchdown in Friday practice. The Jaguars have Marshall working some with the returners, and whether or not he finds a role there he appears to have the athletic ability to make an impact on special teams until he develops as a professional defensive player.