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Preseason about issues, answers


Here's a look at five prominent issues the Jaguars hope to begin answering in Monday night's preseason opener in Miami.

  1. Defensive tackle—The emergence of Atiyyah Ellison has created competition at a position of immense concern heading into training camp. Is Ellison for real? Is John Henderson committed to a comeback? Can rookie Terrance Knighton be a factor? Does Rob Meier have something left in the tank? Is Derek Landri an every-downs player?

"We've got to win the line of scrimmage battle. We've got to win in the trenches. Last year, Miami came in here and kicked our butts. I thought they beat us up in the trenches. I was concerned coming out of that game because I thought they handled us. We'll get a good test against a physical front when we go down there," coach Jack Del Rio said.

  1. Pass-rush—Derrick Harvey appears to be an improved player and the Jaguars have been tinkering with 3-4, zone-blitz concepts to be used in pass-rush situations. Can Harvey become a premier pass-rusher? Is Quentin Groves worthy of a pass-rush role? Is Julius Williams for real? Can the Jaguars get some rush from their linebackers?

"I don't want to give away anything," Del Rio said when asked about pass-rush schemes new Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker is installing. "We've done a lot of experimenting throughout the offseason, we've settled on what we're going to be and now we're working on it. You'll begin to see some 3-4 concepts, some odd concepts and some movement packages we know we want to be able to utilize at some point during the season."

  1. Quarterback—David Garrard was impressive in practice this week, but the depth concerns here are immense. A strong performance by Todd Bouman on Monday would help calm those concerns.

"David's been sharp," Del Rio said. "David's had a good camp. We had a couple of balls we'd like to have back (in the Saturday scrimmage), but David's had a good camp."

  1. Wide receiver—The Jaguars need for someone other than Torry Holt to take the lead. Mike Walker may have been in the process of doing that when he sustained an ankle injury in the Saturday scrimmage that has shelved him ever since. Troy Williamson and Nate Hughes are said to be having strong camps. Tiquan Underwood has made some big plays but has also dropped passes that could've been big plays. Jarett Dillard dropped some passes in the past week but continues competing, and Mike Thomas has been bothered by a hamstring pull. Who, if anybody, is going to make a move? That's a major question that needs to be answered at a position of distinct issues.

"With all the young players, I think the first thing you look for is can they be consistent? Can they become dependable? It's all about our football team; it's about us putting out the best product we can to win games. That's why coaches tend to lean on veterans, because they're more proven. Right now, we have young guys that are very much in the mix that haven't proven anything, and they'll get their first opportunity on Monday night," Del Rio said.

  1. The offensive line—The Jaguars spent their first two draft picks on repairing the most troubled area of last year's team, but the first of those two picks, Eugene Monroe, missed the first two weeks of training camp. When will Monroe be ready to play? Is Tony Pashos rebounding from a down year? Is there enough depth at guard to stem the tide until Vince Manuwai is fully recovered from knee reconstruction?

"We have great depth this year," veteran center Brad Meester said. "Looking at the two (units) we have out there, (all) of those guys are starters. That's a great thing to have. It creates great competition up front."

Let the competition begin.

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