(Ed. Note—This is the third installment in a five-part series that previews the positional competition in training camp. Today's installment features the offensive and defensive lines.)
Coaches consider them to be the foundation of their teams, and that means the Jaguars are built on very firm ground.
Jack Del Rio's offensive and defensive lines are the strength of his team, especially on the defensive side. Competition on the two lines in this summer's training camp will be mostly for roster spots, though the left guard position on the offensive line could become a place of special interest.
Vince Manuwai is the incumbent at left guard, but after a stellar rookie season in 2003, Manuwai has struggled at periods in each of the following two seasons and now he's facing a camp that will challenge him to play at a higher level. Second-year man Dan Connolly could push for the starting job.
Connolly came out of nowhere as an undrafted rookie last summer. He caught Del Rio's eye and positioned himself for a run at the starting job this summer.
Another offensive lineman of interest is veteran center Brad Meester, who is coming off surgery for a torn biceps he sustained late last season. The Jaguars re-signed Dennis Norman to provide insurance and competition at center.
The rest of the offensive line is in good stead. Khalif Barnes is coming off a great rookie season and could establish himself this season as one of the league's best young left offensive tackles.
Mo Williams played most of last season with nagging injuries. He was just about recovered from a knee injury when he sustained a neck burner that left him a one-armed player against Willie McGinest in the playoff loss to the Patriots. Williams says he's healthy and wants to become the best right tackle in the game.
Chris Naeole is one of the best right guards in the game and is coming off the best season of his career.
The Jaguars signed three veteran offensive linemen in the offseason: tackles Mike Williams, Stockar McDougle and Wayne Hunter.
It was hoped Williams would compete for a starting job, but he didn't raise his stock in the spring and now he faces what might be the most critical training camp of his career. McDougle and Hunter are now expected to compete for the number one backup tackle job.
Other offensive linemen are: tackles Carlos Joseph, Ryan Gibbons and Richard Collier, guard Derrick Fletcher and center Brett Romberg. Last year, the Jaguars kept nine offensive linemen.
The defensive line has the deepest collection of talent on the team. Marcus Stroud and John Henderson at the tackles and Reggie Hayward and Paul Spicer at the ends have quality backups in Rob Meier and Bobby McCray.
Third-year tackle Anthony Maddox is facing an important training camp. Maddox made significant progress last year and is expected to push for playing time this year.
Veteran tackle Tony Williams was cut last year but will give it another try this summer.
Undrafted rookie tackle Tony McDaniel caught the coaches' attention in the spring and is expected to push for a roster spot this summer.
At end, second-year man Jim Davis will fight for a roster spot, along with seventh-round draft pick James Wyche. Marcellus Wiley, Walter Curry and Elton Patterson provide even more competition.
The Jaguars kept eight defensive linemen last year.