JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways Monday as the Jaguars began early preparations to play the Carolina Panthers in the regular-season opener Sunday at EverBank Field …
1)Waiting and seeing.We begin Monday Takeaways with Marqise Lee, with the second-year wide receiver saying Monday he's in a similar situation to observers when it comes to his status. That means he's still waiting to see if he will be able to play against Carolina Sunday. "It's day-to-day," Lee said. "I just basically sit back and do what they (trainers and doctors) say and we pretty much go from there. … I'm sitting back just like you all are sitting back waiting." Lee, who missed the offseason program with a knee injury, has been out since the first week of training camp with a hamstring injury. "It's tough, but then again you have to really understand that you don't want to rush," Lee said. "That's biggest thing: you don't want to rush back. You want to take time and make sure you're straight when you come back and be 100 percent. I want to come back and play of course, but when you sit down and think about it you understand what their thinking is." General Manager David Caldwell on Saturday said Lee was probably 50-50 for Carolina and Head Coach Gus Bradley on Monday called Lee's status for Sunday "up in the air."
2)Good line.Credit Lee with a sense of perspective. Lee on Monday spoke for the first time since Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson's much-tweeted, much-discussed comment last week comparing Lee to the "albino tiger" at the zoo that rarely comes out of the cave. Olson was referring to Lee having been able to practice only three times since Olson's January hiring. Considering how rarely he has been on the field since Olson's arrival, Lee said the albino tiger line "was an amazing comparison," adding "I understand what he's talking about. Coach Oley's only been here a couple of months and for those couple of months I've only been out (practicing) a couple of times. That reference was perfect, right? I didn't take it as a big deal. I didn't take it as an insult or nothing like that. I know Coach Oley's one of the main coaches who wants me back as far as trying to participate."
Take a look at images as the Jaguars hit the Florida Blue Practice fields for an abbreviated Labor Day practice.
3.A rotation thing.That the Jaguars' defensive line will rotate heavily early in the season doesn't bother Bradley; in fact, he said the defense is designed that way. With starting three-technique tackle Sen'Derrick Marks out, Tyson Alualu likely will start at the three with rookie Michael Bennett and Abry Jones playing there and starting strong-side end Jared Odrick possibly moving inside at times. The Leo pass-rushing position also likely will have a heavy rotation with Chris Smith playing on first and second down and Chris Clemons and Ryan Davis playing on those downs and in the pass-rushing "lightning" package. "The dilemma for us right now (at Leo) is figuring out the reps in a game," Bradley said. "How many does Chris Clemons get? Chris Smith? Ryan? How do we spread out these reps at the Leo spot? That's what we need to take a look at."
4.Versatility a key.The ability of Thurston Armbrister gives the Jaguars some flexibility at linebacker; as importantly to Armbrister, it also helped him earn his first NFL roster spot. Armbrister, one of three collegiate free agents to make the Jaguars' original 53-player 2015 roster along with running back Corey Grant and cornerback Nick Marshall, can play both the middle and Otto linebacker positions. The Jaguars started him at the middle – or "mike" – linebacker position and moved him later in training camp to the Otto, where Bradley said "he did really a nice job." Bradley said Armbrister can play either position in base packages as well as nickel passing situations. "His length showed up for us," Bradley said. "We really like that part of his game. We're a heavy zone-drop team and a guy (linebacker) who has length and can utilize it helps us." Bradley said if the team didn't believe Armbrister could play middle it may have retained Jeremiah George, who was released Saturday.
5)Captain, my captain. The Jaguars on Sunday voted the following players team captains: quarterback Blake Bortles (offense), tight end Marcedes Lewis (offense), middle linebacker Paul Posluszny (defense) and punter Bryan Anger (special teams). "They're four great representatives," Bradley said Monday. "We had a lot of guys get votes, which was different than the last couple of years. It's going to take everybody, though. We talk that leadership involves everybody. Being a captain, what a great opportunity for these guys. It shows the respect the players have for them. They know what they can count on in good times and bad times. There's a certain responsibility that comes with it."