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Kelvin Beachum to start at left tackle


JACKSONVILLE – The left-tackle question has been answered.

Kelvin Beachum will start the 2016 regular season at left tackle for the Jaguars, Head Coach Gus Bradley said late Tuesday morning. Luke Joeckel, the starting left tackle the past two seasons, will be the starting left guard.

Bradley made the announcement moments after the team's practice Tuesday.

"We had conversations with both," Bradley said. "It's always what we think is best for the organization. Obviously, they're both very strong competitors. They were great. They know we're going to do what's best for the team and we'll proceed from there."

Beachum signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers last March, then spent the offseason rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in Week 6 last season.

"I'm extremely humbled by it, because it was a long road getting to where I am," Beachum said.

The hope had been for Beachum and Joeckel to compete for the left tackle position in preseason and training camp, but Beachum played only the third preseason game this past Sunday against Cincinnati. Joeckel had started the first two preseason games at left tackle, and played well at that spot.

"I've just got to be ready for guard for Week 1," Joeckel said. "That's the mindset I've taken all of camp and all offseason. I want to be the best guard I can be and the best tackle I can be. I feel like it's been a successful camp and we've done some good things. I can definitely improve a lot and I've got to be ready to go Week 1."

Beachum played well against Cincinnati, and Bradley said the decision to start him at left tackle was based on that and his previous body of work.

"He did a good job and had no issues," Bradley said of Beachum's performance against Cincinnati. "I can't argue that this was a competition back and forth. That's not accurate because Beachum wasn't playing much in training camp. It was more the body of work that we saw and what was best, we thought."

Bradley said neither player will play against Atlanta in the preseason finale Thursday. Joeckel struggled at times in his first NFL start at left guard against Cincinnati.

"You want to get as much time with those two guys together just for that chemistry, so now we have two weeks," Bradley said. "We did today and we'll continue to go with that."

Bradley said while there have been plays "here and there" on which Joeckel has struggled at guard, his body of work at the spot has been "pretty good."

"We just think he has high, high upside at guard," Bradley said, adding that Joeckel improved significantly at left tackle since last season.  "For us, selfishly speaking, it's a pretty good deal."

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