JACKSONVILLE – The issue is as obvious as the task.
The issue is the Jaguars' run offense – i.e., the preseason play of the offensive line – and the task is to improve before the September 10 regular-season opener at Houston.
Is the group up to the task?
Jaguars guard A.J. Cann remains confident the answer is yes.
"We will; we definitely will," Cann said when asked if the group will be effective in the regular season.
The Jaguars' offensive line has been a focal point during training camp and regular season, with rookie Cam Robinson and veteran Josh Wells splitting repetitions at left tackle throughout much of camp and veterans Patrick Omameh and Luke Bowanko splitting reps in Preseason Week 3 against Carolina Thursday.
Head Coach Doug Marrone, who has been hesitant to name Robinson the starter, said while Robinson allowed an early sack against Carolina he recovered well. He also said he is comfortable with the idea of Robinson starting. The left-guard position isn't as settled.
"We're trying to figure it out," Marrone said.
The Jaguars have struggled to run in each of the last two preseason games. First-team running backs Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon combined for six yards on nine carries in a Preseason Week 2 loss to Tampa Bay, and Jaguars running backs finished that game with 30 yards on 17 carries.
Ivory and running back Corey Grant combined for 94 yards on 20 carries against Carolina Thursday, but 51 of those yards came on a run on a fake punt by Ivory. Jaguars running backs finished the game with 56 yards on 22 carries taking away the run by Grant.
"I just think across the board execution is something that we have to have as our primary focus," Omameh said. "Once the execution is in order, the rest will take care of itself. I don't think it's ever at the point where you're satisfied. You always feel like there's something to improve on."
Note and observations from Sunday around the Jaguars:
*Neither Omameh nor Bowanko knew as of Sunday how the left-guard competition will play out, and neither had a real feel for whether or not they would play against Atlanta Thursday. Starters typically don't play in the fourth preseason game, but Marrone played the starting offensive line longer than usual in each of the last two preseason games. "As far as what we're going to be doing this week, it's clearly up to our coaches and management," Omameh said. "We trust whatever decision they make to put us in our best position." Omameh added of the competition for a starting role, "I just try to focus on doing everything I'm supposed to do on each and every play that's called. Anything outside of that isn't within my realm." …
*Bowanko, listed on the unofficial depth chart as the backup center, started at left guard against Carolina. He started 14 games at center in 2014 and also has worked at tackle in three-plus seasons since being selected by the Jaguars in the sixth round of 2014 NFL Draft. "I go when they tell me to go – ready at all five positions," Bowanko said. "It's whatever they tell me to do. Pretty much every year I've played here since my first year, that's how it has been. I have an expectation to play at a high level whatever position I play." …
*Center Brandon Linder returned to practice Sunday after missing Saturday. Other Jaguars players out of practice Sunday were Yeldon, wide receiver Rashad Greene, wide receiver Dede Westbrook, defensive tackle Michael Bennett, tight end Mychal Rivera, fullback Marquez Williams and guard Earl Watford. Cornerback A.J. Bouye, running back Leonard Fournette, defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., wide receiver Marqise Lee and cornerback Aaron Colvin practiced a second consecutive day after missing Thursday against Carolina. …
*Fowler said his absence from practice last week and against Carolina was mostly precautionary. More importantly, he said he likes where he is as Preseason Week 4 approaches. "I feel really good," Fowler said. "I'm ready physically and I think I'm mentally ready. I've got to take that mental part to another level in terms in terms of being 100 percent on my alignments and my assignments. If I can to do that, I can be me and play fast." Fowler, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, emphasized that he feels far better entering this season than last. After missing his rookie season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Fowler struggled at times rushing the passer last season and finished with four sacks. "I started fast last year [in training camp], then went down," Fowler said. "I feel good coming out of this camp that I've handled my business off the field, handled my business on the field. I'm in shape and honestly approaching the game as a pro. I was a true rookie last year in some of the things I did and didn't do last year. I can tell I'm maturing and taking steps in the right direction. Being consistent on and off the field is my biggest thing." …