JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars' starting offensive line never played together in the 2021 preseason.
That's expected to change come Week 1.
"That's my anticipation," George Warhop said.
Warhop, entering his third season as the Jaguars' offensive line coach, spoke to the media via videoconference Wednesday. He discussed multiple topics, including the development of players such as veteran tackle Jawaan Taylor and rookie left tackle Walker Little.
He also discussed the health of the Jaguars' starting line, saying he expects the group – left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Brandon Linder, right guard A.J. Cann and Taylor – to play in the regular-season opener in Houston on September 12.
Norwell missed all three preseason games with an elbow issue, while Robinson (ankle) and Linder (knee) missed the final two preseason games. Cann missed the preseason finale on reserve/COVID-19.
The group enters a third consecutive season as the starting line, making it the most experienced – and continuous – starting group on the roster. It's also a group that will help protect quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
"That's more than just an O-Line question; that's an offensive question," Warhop said. "Protection starts with us and the [running] backs. We have to do our part to protect the quarterback. He has to do his part by getting the ball out of his hand. It's more than just the O-line or the backs or the tight ends, but there's no question we have to do our job.
"I could really care less who's back there. We don't want the guy touched. Whether it's a rookie or 15-year veteran, we have to protect the quarterback. It's a collective deal to protect the quarterback, and I think the plan we have for him going to be pretty effective."
QB C.J. Beathard, who solidified his status as backup quarterback when the Jaguars traded Gardner Minshew II to Philadelphia Saturday, said the key to his improvement through training camp was learning the Jaguars' offensive scheme after signing as an unrestricted free agent in March. "It really is like learning a new language," he said. "I'm still growing and learning and will be for however long I'm here. It definitely slowed down a lot as camp started to get going and preseason started to get going. It slowed down a lot. I feel comfortable in it now." Beathard, who spent his first four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, completed 27 of 40 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.
Warhop on Wednesday also discussed rookie tackle Walker Little, a second-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft who will enter the season as a reserve right/left tackle, saying Little during the preseason "has performed like most rookies perform." Warhop said Little played well at times during the preseason and not as well at other times, with most of his struggles coming from adjusting from college to the NFL. "I've said before he's the most prepared young guy I've had, and I still stand by that," Warhop said. "But there's still a process involved. It's a work in progress. Can he be better? There's no question. Am I disappointed in him? Not at all. Is he going to get better? Yes, he'll continue to get better."
Warhop said he saw progress during the preseason for third-year tackle Jawaan Taylor, the only Jaguars player to start every game the last two seasons. "I think Jawaan's going to be a really good right tackle in this league," Warhop said. "I think he already is a really good right tackle. I think he can be a better right tackle. One of my former players, out of the blue, shot me a text and said, 'I love your right tackle; I love how that guy's playing. He has a chance to be what we want at the position, but he still has to continue to work at it."
LB Shaq Quarterman, who played at Orange Park (Fla.) Oakleaf High School near Jacksonville, on playing for his hometown team: "It's a real dream come true. I have so many friends and loved ones who support us here in the city. Having this opportunity, I definitely don't take it for granted."