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First off the Field: Stefen Wisniewski to start at center


JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars have named their starting center.

Four-year veteran Stefen Wisniewski will start at the position after a training-camp competition with second-year veteran Luke Bowanko, Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Monday.

"We brought them both in and talked about it – Wiz is going to be our starting center," Bradley said following a two-hour practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness practice fields.

Wisniewski signed as a free agent in the offseason after four seasons starting at center with the Oakland Raiders. Bowanko started 14 games at the position as a rookie for the Jaguars last season.

"It was a very difficult decision," Bradley said. "Just for the team's sake, where we're at, how it felt … Wiz had the edge."

The two split practices working with the first-team offense throughout training camp. Wisniewski started the second preseason game against the New York Giants Saturday after Bowanko started the preseason opener against Pittsburgh.

"We had a good meeting with him," Bradley said of Bowanko. "We feel very strongly about the competition that took place. We thought they both really did well in it."

Bradley said Bowanko is probably the team's sixth offensive lineman, and will work extensively at the tackle position. Bradley said Bowanko could probably play any of the positions along the offensive line.

"That's why we're training him at tackle as well," Bradley said.

Also Monday, running back T.J. Yeldon and safety James Sample – a pair of rookies who had been working in red, non-contact jerseys to prevent injuries – each practiced on a limited basis on Monday advance of what is expected to be their NFL debuts in a few days. Neither wore the red jersey.

The Jaguars will play host to the Detroit Lions at EverBank Field Friday in the third game of the 2015 preseason.

While Yeldon and Sample returned, much of the news in the last few days around the Jaguars has been about players sustaining injuries Saturday against the Giants.

Cornerback Demetrius McCray missed practiced Monday with a knee contusion, with linebacker LaRoy Reynolds missing with a medial collateral ligament injury, offensive tackle Josh Wells missing with a dislocated left thumb, wide receiver Greg Jenkins missing with a high-ankle sprain and linebacker Khairi Fortt missing with a knee injury.

Those five players were injured against the Giants, as was wide receiver Arrelious Benn, who is scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday on a broken collarbone.

The Jaguars on Monday signed first-year wide receiver Erik Lora to the active roster and waived/injured Damian Copeland, who sustained a shoulder injury against the Giants.

Wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring) remained out of practice, as did cornerback Peyton Thompson (hamstring). Offensive tackle Brennan Williams (knee) missed practice and rookie wide receiver Neal Sterling returned to practice on a limited basis after missing time last week with a hamstring injury.

Defensive end Chris Clemons also worked limited, and running back Toby Gerhart was limited with an abdominal strain.

Tight end Julius Thomas (hand) and safety Johnathan Cyprien (finger) did not practice. Neither is expected to play in the final two preseason games.

Bradley also said the Jaguars first practice of the week – as expected – focused far more on the Lions than previous preseason practices had focused on previous opponents. That's typically the case in the third week of the preseason, with most teams treating that game as a dress rehearsal and therefore following a regular-season routine.

The Jaguars worked in full pads Monday.

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